New cloud types

The World Meteorological Organization has added twelve new cloud types to its International Cloud Atlas. These are all truly remarkable works of nature, rarely seen in these parts. It’s difficult to say which is my favorite of the new inductees. For pure hilarity, I’d say the (Ci) Homogenitus, just because it will get the chemtrail wackos all stirred up. But in terms of natural wonder, I gotta go with the fluctus (pictured below).

Tales from the weather office: my conversation with a school official

It snowed today in Middle Tennessee. Some parts received more than was forecast, especially north of Nashville. People in Middle Tennessee get very emotional about snow, more so than any other type of weather. It’s worse than severe storms, worse than floods, worse than heat waves.

One school system that decided to have class today was perturbed by the under-forecast to the point that they called the weather office literally every hour wanting to know how much longer it was going to last.

I spoke to them twice myself. One guy was a complete jerk, and started off the conversation, “I was wondering how much longer we can expect this snow because it’s been snowing 5 hours and there was none in the forecast. I got 35K kids in school and our back roads are a mess and I’m in a pickle.”

So I politely gave him the forecast and reiterated all measurable snow would be gone by noon. He asked the same question every way it can be asked and I gave him the same answer. I also checked the airport observations for that locale and saw that they reported snow for about 2 hours (not 5).

I figured this guy had parents & media breathing down his neck, so he figured he’d breathe down ours.

Granted we did not forecast much, if any, accumulation for his area. We did have snow in the forecast but were calling for a “dusting” at most. There is some uncertainty in snow forecasting. People have to understand this.

This same gentleman, in a separate conversation with a co-worker, sort of got put on the spot.

Co-worker: “How much accumulation do you have?”

School official: “I don’t know.”

CW: “Could you go outside and measure?”

SO: “I don’t know how to measure snow.”

CW: “You stick a ruler in the ground.”

SO: “Oh, we don’t have enough snow for that.”

CW: ?

They ended up with about a half-inch of snow in this area. It snowed for about two hours. It may have flurried off and on longer than that. But it doesn’t matter how long it snows. What matters is the impact of the snow. Flurries, by their nature, do not accumulate and have no impact. It could flurry all day without any ill effects.

There may have been some slippery places on some of their back roads. We had between one-half and one inch here in Wilson County and driving was a little tricky in places.

If you make decisions based on a snow forecast — and many people do — you must understand there is going to be some uncertainty. If a forecaster calls for a dusting and you get a half-inch, that’s not a huge miss.

The forecaster is doing the best he can with what he has. He’s trying to get it right. He doesn’t want to over-forecast snow and cause you to waste a snow day on a non-event. (It’s happened many times.) He doesn’t want to under-forecast and put you in a bind, either. But you have to give the meteorologist a little room on either side for error.

If the forecast had been for a dusting and they had gotten 8 inches, or even, say, two inches, then you’ve got a legitimate complaint. But if the forecaster forecasts light snow with little or no accumulation and you get a half-inch, you’re being a bit unreasonable if you’re upset.

As a recently-retired former co-worker used to say, the weather’s gonna do what it wants to do when it wants to do it.

(Based on a suggestion from a friend, look for more “Tales from the weather office” in the future.)

Autumn’s signs & wonders

Summer is gone. I loved this summer and was sorry to see it go, but autumn is upon us now and I really do love autumn best. The summer heat is enjoyable, but after 4 months of it (really from mid-May until mid-September), the heat does tend to wear on a person. The only lasting regret about summer’s passing is the shortening of days. I love the long days and always feel cheated after we switch back to standard time and it gets dark before 5 p.m.

I enjoy autumn’s colors and crispness of the cooler air and the peacefulness of an occasional rainy day. I enjoy sleeping at night when there’s a chill in the air and kicking off the covers is not an option. But most of all autumn means optimal running weather. I do my best running and longest miles in autumn, and again in spring. Oh, and autumn means an end to yard work. I have yet to celebrate that final lawn mowing, but there aren’t many left.

Autumn also means college football and the start of basketball season. It means jackets and long sleeves. It also means I get a year older.

Seasons change

Today is September 1. It’s the first day of meteorological autumn. Of course, the autumnal equinox is still some three weeks away. And it does still feel like summer outside (and will for a little while longer). Traditionally, we have marked the change in seasons from equinox to solstice to equinox to solstice. But perception is as much a factor in marking the seasons as the earth’s tilt. So we have what we call meteorological autumn, winter, spring and summer, which begin on the 1st of the month in which we experience an equinox or solstice. The two are offset by about three weeks. Meteorological winter begins on December 1, with the winter solstice coming approximately three weeks later. Meteorological spring begins March 1. And meteorological summer starts June 1. The reasoning is easy to explain. September feels more like autumn than summer. December feels more like winter than autumn. March feels more like spring than winter. And June feels more like summer than spring. So, yes, it’s still summer according to the astronomical calendar. But practically, today is the first day of autumn.

Warmest winter day ever

We hit 87 degrees in Nashville today. It was the warmest temperature ever recorded during winter in the city’s history. It was quite funny to read comments by climate hoax deniers using the record warm day as proof of manmade climate change. It’s comical because during extreme cold the hoax deniers tell us you can’t use a single event as proof of anything. But during record warmth they are quick to politicize that single event.

Snow-emotional

It’s snowing again in the Nashville area. I enjoy experiencing it. I do not enjoy working it. Middle Tennesseans get incredibly emotional about snow, even more so than the severe storms we get in spring. Some are also incredibly needy or snow-phobic and expect the government/media to tell them what to do. I guess I’m one of the few remaining people who can simply enjoy snow and not create drama. 

 

Our frozen world

This was the view early this morning on Old Hickory Lake as I was driving into work. There was light freezing fog on the lake and low stratus clouds just above that. There is still plenty of snow on the ground, but with sunny skies and temperatures getting above freezing later today, a lot of the existing snow will melt. So this is the last morning to enjoy Friday’s snowfall in its full glory.