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
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
are straddling the Mesosphere and Thermosphere….
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.
are very rare for us because they are only visible be 50 and 70 degrees
latitude.We are roughly 47 to 48
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.....
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
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.”
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….
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:
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.
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
First, my cams had a HUGE photobomb by a violet green
And then he came back for more a few minutes later.... Photogenic little bugger.... :)
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....
are hinting at some more instability and a chance of thunderstorms Friday
through the weekend….Lots of time for
that to change though…