You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2009.

“This is a 10x time lapse of the magnificent Grand Island-Aurora, Nebraska supercell and tornadoes, as filmed by storm chasers Dick McGowan and Darin Brunin on June 17, 2009.”

The tornado was ultimately rated an F2. The sped up video in the first half gives a good view of the essential character of a wall cloud. Many observers have trouble distinguishing scud and fracto in storm clouds and frequently mistake these for wall clouds.

The intake flow is clearly seen in this video, and this action plus the fact that the wall cloud is a descended product (ie connected to the cell base)of the intake flow are the two main distinguishing features, compared to scud and fracto.

Finally, some storm chasing video that actually conveys some real information rather than the amped up shouts of post-pubescent males…:)


Update: After a number of “false” starts it appears the cycle is underway. Opinions vary, but generally its believed that it is not likely to be a strong cycle. So, hams, start your radios! If, as it is believed, we are entering a rather long period of low solar activity, windows of opportunity might not be that great for the next few years. And if you’ve never seen sunspots up close, get out your telescope with an intact good quality, good condition, solar filter over the front element and check them out.

Caution: NEVER, EVER, EVER VIEW THE SUN WITH A NAKED SCOPE OR WITH A CHEAP EYEPIECE FILTER! NEVER, EVER, DO IT! NEVER! YOU WILL REGRET IT EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! (not meaning to sound shrill, but the retinal burn is instantaneous and permanent).

Update:After a drought, perhaps cycle 24 (25?) is about to get started – updating image below is from the “Soho” link in the sidebar.

Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope. EIT304: Taken at 304 Angstrom the bright material is at 60,000 to 80,000 degrees Kelvin.

Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope. EIT304: Taken at 304 Angstrom the bright material is at 60,000 to 80,000 degrees Kelvin.

Michelson Doppler Imager, Continuum: images shown here are taken in the continuum near the Ni I 6768 Angstrom line. The most prominent features are the sunspots.

Michelson Doppler Imager, Continuum: images shown here are taken in the continuum near the Ni I 6768 Angstrom line. The most prominent features are the sunspots.

MDI Magnetogram.  The magnetogram image shows the magnetic field in the solar photosphere, with black and white indicating opposite polarities.

MDI Magnetogram. The magnetogram image shows the magnetic field in the solar photosphere, with black and white indicating opposite polarities.

By Ryan Maue, Florida State University

Figure: 24-month running sums of Accumulated Cyclone Energy.

Both Northern Hemisphere and South Hemisphere AND therefore overall Global hurricane activity has continued to sink to levels not seen since the 1970s. Even more astounding, when the Southern Hemisphere hurricane data is analyzed to create a global value, we see that Global Hurricane Energy has sunk to 30-year lows, at the least. Since hurricane intensity and detection data is problematic as one goes back in time, when reporting and observing practices were different than today, it is possible that we underestimated global hurricane energy during the 1970s.” The rest of Ryan’s article is here

To see what’s currently happening in the Tropical Atlantic, rummage through

The Mosaics selector is now up and running on Ephemerata Weather Radar. The Mosaics selector provides a wide array of target area radar products, grouped in typical functional and analytical groups. Now you can view the radar imagery on the main page and follow the associated radar products used to detect potentially severe or unusual weather.

Additionally, there is a selection of National presentations available, giving you the tools you need to figure out your own weather.

From the main page, select “Mosaics” in the selector bar, and select from the menu presented. Warning: screen acreage and shades recommended!

Development continues apace on Ephemerata Weather Radar. The more I use it, the more I find things for it to do!

The web page now can handle as many scans as I can bring on line. In practical terms, that usually means as many as four, since more than that requires too many computers and too much bandwidth.

Recent changes: 1) the size of the images have been increased for better view. There is a limit to how big these can be due to how big the raw file is (NWS provides for a image spec of 600×550 px – so sizing without loss becomes a software function after the fact and has practical limits).

2) I am working on a mosaic display that presents current scan data for up to four radar products simultaneously, constantly updated. Due to screen limitations across different browsers and user monitor configurations, this has been a bit challenging.

Presently I am looking at panels for 1024×768 screen res (15-17in monitors), and a large display for 20″ and up (1600×1000 screen res). With the advent of of HD and widescreen, this presents interesting problems for conventional data display, as the proportions of these technical images have to be maintained within limits. For the moment, the 1024×768 panel is up in beta based on NEXRAD level III data, and can be invoked by clicking on “Mosaic” in the link line or under the Scan B image.

Parallel to this, I am also working on a Mosaic Snapshot. This will be a single point in time display used in certain special circumstances, and is not self-updating. Its intended use is where bandwidth resources are already stretched enough to preclude additional polling on multiple sites, or where a unique event has occured and a study panel is desirable. Updating will be on an ad hoc variable basis. An alpha version was tested during TD Erica satisfactorily.

3)Adding the auto-refresh feature solved the problem of the user having to reload the web page for current data, but created an interesting wrinkle for new users: the page resets while reading and working on the text material! Firefox and IE handle these resets differently (IE, not well at all), so this was a unacceptable nuisance. To resolve this, the text portion is now available as a separate window or tab selected at the beginning of the “How to use EWR” dialogue (selected from the link bar). If invoked as a window and you have a widescreen or multi-monitor setup you can hold the text window open while you scroll the scans.

For multi-display users, a version of Ephemerata Weather Radar is in development that breaks out the page in different windows. The current format is maintained to provide the greatest amount of accessibility across the largest number of platforms.

The venerable Mt. Wilson Observatory in California was under threat of wild fires, and had been evacuated. The webcam on its 150 ft solar tower showed images of an eerie landscape reminiscent of Mars, as the flames down the mountain illuminated a smokey night sky.

Night view from the solar tower just after evacuation from the Station fire.

The view from Mt. Wilson during the Station fire.

Established in 1904, “in the twenty-first century, the Observatory hosts several of the most technologically advanced facilities in the world for studying astronomical objects with unprecedented resolution and clarity. The 100-inch Hooker telescope remains in active scientific service, and the solar towers are daily collecting data representing the world’s longest continuous record of the sun. ”

View from the Mt Wilson SolarCam

Current view from the Mt Wilson SolarCam. Click on image for large view.

Fire blogging ceased from the Mt Wilson site on Sept 2, 2009. The image above is the current solarcam image from the tower, and is updated throughout the day. The hills beyond the dome were almost completely burnt over in the fires. Over time, regeneration should be evident in the solarcam images.

Update 2009/09/04: While not specifically mentioned in the MWO director’s blog page, it appears the solarcam web cam feedline has been repaired, as the picture below is recent. Situation remains hopeful for a positive outcome.

Update 2009/09/03: The Station fire that is threatening MWO has now burned an area of 219 sq. mi, an area the size of San Francisco or Philadelphia, and is 38% contained as of today. Brandon Riza, an area photographer, has made a time lapse video of the Station fire, showing the enormity of it. [h/t WUWT]

Update 2009/09/01 (2): “The Mount Wilson webserver has gone down, most likely due to a backfire infiltration of a pull box containing telephone lines that bring us our T1 internet service. There will be no more updates from the Towercam, the last one being upoaded at 13:49:06.

Update 2009/09/01 (1): Firefighters are apparently setting backfires in order to cut off the fuel supply in order to prevent the Observatory area from being overrun. This is the explanation for the new smoke visible in the webcam.


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