Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Surprise Aurora Borealis Show....

There has been some very weak geomagnetic activity lately, but nothing to get excited about.  Surprisingly, this morning we had a brief, but very nice show.

Here is an image taken at 12:23 am.


And...  The time lapse.... Watch this full screen....

Saturday, June 24, 2017

'Tis The Season For Noctilucent Clouds....



Yesterday morning when I was reviewing my overnight time lapses I saw that my cameras had captured a brief glimpse of some noctilucent clouds.  We got home late last night and once again, you could see some unusual lighting on the horizon.  This was a very faint event, but the conditions are just right for a real show.  I thought I’d drop a few factoids here about Noctilucent clouds as a reminder that this IS the season to keep an eye to the Northern sky after sunset or before sunrise.
  
Every year around the summer solstice we have “slight” chance to see this beautiful event.  Noctilucent clouds are ice crystals VERY high in the atmosphere.  Specifically, between 47 and 53 miles up. 

For reference, here are the atmospheric levels:
Exosphere: 440 to 6,200 miles
Thermosphere: 50 to 440 miles
Mesosphere: 31 to 50 miles
Stratosphere: 7 to 31 miles
Troposphere: 0 to 7 miles

These clouds are straddling the Mesosphere and Thermosphere…. 

They can only be seen during deep twilight.  In our area this would be 45 to 90 minutes before sunrise or after sunset.   They appear as white, streaky clouds.  

Here is an image from last summer.

These clouds are very rare for us because they are only visible be 50 and 70 degrees latitude.  We are roughly 47 to 48 degrees here.

Another interesting fact is there were no documented reports of Noctilucent clouds prior to 1885.  The videos below really need to be viewed full screen.

Here is a time lapse of the event from last summer:

Here is the “hint” of some noctilucent clouds in the last 48 hours.


Keep your eyes to the north if you are up early or stay up late.....

Friday, June 9, 2017

Long Range Winter Forecasts Are In.... Mild El Nino or La Nada?



Cliff Mass shared his thoughts about the latest long range forecasts for this winter in his blog today.  He also shares the latest long range forecast from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center and other forecast models.  It is a very interesting read. 
 

The forecasts are suggesting a weak El Nino or Neutral (La Nada) conditions.  He does an excellent job of explaining the distinctions, how they are forecast and what we can expect. 


I’ll throw in one caveat….  We have had some of our strongest storms during “La Nada” winters.  The 1962 Columbus Day storm and the 1993 Inauguration Day Storm happened during a neutral year.


None of this information can create an absolutely accurate forecast.  Natural variability plays a huge role in our actual weather.  In his blog he states:


“But keep in mind, the El Nino/La Nina connection only explains about a third of the year to year variability in our weather.”  


Here is Cliff’s Blog:  http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2017/06/el-nino-next-winter.html

I'll share a little photography here as well.  On June 6th we had a pretty remarkable sunrise that included a Sun Pillar and some Crepuscular Rays.


On June 8th we had some pretty blustery weather.  This picture says it all....


The image above is included in this time lapse:

 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Celsius to Fahrenheit.... Fahrenheit to Celsius.... How to make the conversion.... a "little" easier....


Recently my wife and I took a nice vacation to California to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful time. I met a very nice guy from Manchester in the pool, literally at the same time the bombing took place and neither of us knew. How sad.... But, we started talking weather (big surprise there huh?). We both admitted that we could not do the Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion in our head. I knew some of the basics and I exchanged an email or two with Scott Sistek. He shared his easy and simple conversion, but it didn’t match what I had been using…. So…. I told him, this one is going to take another “pool beer” and a spreadsheet to figure out….😀 I had that 2nd pool beer and put my thoughts into a spreadsheet.  Here are the results:



I shared it with him that night… Yes, I am a numbers nerd…. :) 
So…. This is the back story to Scott Sistek’s blog today…. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Aurora All Night Long!

Last night we had an incredible Northern Lights event.  It went on all night long. Here are some of the images followed by a time lapse video of the whole night.

This one even had a meteor in it:






And a time lapse of the whole night:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How To Forecast The Probability Lightning... For The Layman....



We have had thunder storms in our forecast quite frequently lately.  I thought I’d take a few minutes to share a tool that will allow you to look into the future, just like the forecasters, to see how intense and where lightning is likely to occur.  As I have said before, I am NOT a meteorologist, so this is written by a layman….  For the layperson..…  (Keep It Brief And Simple)


I’d like to credit Scott Sistek from KOMO for providing some resources to me to help with this blog. 


There is a term meteorologists use to quantify the probability of thunderstorms.  CAPE, which stands for Convective Available Potential Energy.  This is actually a calculated metric that determines the probability for electricity in the atmosphere.  Meteorologists can look at models that measure the vertical instability of the atmosphere to make these calculations.


Electricity in the atmosphere is caused by warm moist air on the ground rising rapidly into cold air above.  It also needs a “trigger” like a cold front moving in from the ocean.  In simple terms, lightning is essentially caused by “static electricity” that forms when cold and warm moist clouds are rapidly running into each other.    This video shows how rapidly “convective cumulus” rise and fall.


So, now for the simple tool we can use to see the probability.  I just added a link on my site called CAPE Forecast:

Here is the direct link: CAPE Forecast Link


When you click on this link, it will take you directly to a tool that graphically shows the probability of a thunder storm.  It starts with essentially a time lapse in 3 hour increments showing color coded probability forecasts for lightning. It updates roughly every 12 hours at 9:00am and 9:00pm.  The image below shows the CAPE for 5:00pm Saturday, May 13th.


You can see by the colors that the CAPE (joules/kilogram) is forecast to be in the 200-300 range, which is typical for us, but very mild by national standards.  

When I use this tool, I usually click on the controls in the upper left had corner and stop the animation.  Then I step through image by image so you can see the date and time easily.  

This is a very simple tutorial on how to use the CAPE tool and some basics about how thunderstorms come to be.  

Scott Sistek did a great blog last week about how our thunder storms are unique to this area.  Plus, he goes into more detail that is easy to understand.  

It's a good read with some nice pictures.... ;)  Scott's Lightning Blog





   

Monday, May 8, 2017

Weekly Review....



Thought I’d do a review of all that happened last week….  The "highlight" for me has been computer issues…  That took me off-line for several hours last week.  I finally have everything running smoothly… (knock on wood). 
 

I’ll share some of the things I posted on Facebook and Twitter here.


First, my cams had a HUGE photobomb by a violet green swallow…


And then he came back for more a few minutes later....  Photogenic little bugger....  :)

 
Last weekend Cliff Mass asked if I could provide some wind shear time lapse video.  He used it in yesterday’s blog:   Cliff Mass's Wind Shear Blog


On Thursday May 4th we had one of the largest electrical storms in many years.  We were spared the brunt of it, but still got some action.  If memory serves, this is the only daytime lightning strike my cams have ever caught.  During daylight hours my exposure time may be 1/125th of a every 20 seconds.  Night time it is set to a 20 second exposure that occurs about every 35 seconds.  So, daylight captures are very low odds.  Here is the image:




Here is the video that includes the lightning strike.  




Sometimes a panorama time lapse tells a better story….






We had a very cold, windy Friday evening….  With a surprisingly beautiful, but brief sunset.  Notice the white caps in the bay....  Winds were sustained in the mid 20's gusting to 32.  Temps were in the 40's....



Extended forecasts are hinting at some more instability and a chance of thunderstorms Friday through the weekend….  Lots of time for that to change though…