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Friday, July 17, 2015

Why won't a tropical storm EVER hit the Pacific Northwest?

By Cliff Mass July 16, 2015

Hurricane Dolores is prediction to move up Baja California  and reach the offshore waters west of San Diego by Tuesday AM (see graphic), but it will never reach us.


No tropical storm will ever reach our shores (as a tropical system that is).  The reason?  Because the eastern Pacific off our coast is too cold.

Hurricanes, Typhoons, and tropical storms in general require warm sea surface temperatures, specifically, above roughly 80F or 27 C. 

Here is a recent sea surface temperature analysis over the eastern Pacific.   The 27F contour is the at the boundary between yellow and yellow/green.  The hurricane will soon enter a region that is too cold for development....and the system should progressively weaken.    No tropical storm can even get close to us.


 The visible satellite image Thursday afternoon (see below) has a lot of interesting features, but none struck the eye like Hurricane Dolores moving up the Mexican coast (A).  There is also low clouds (stratocumulus/stratus) moving up the coast (B), clear skies where continental air is pushing offshore (D), and ship tracks, where particles from ship exhausts are producing lines of enhanced cloudiness (C).



Will things change under global warming?  No chance.   Remember this year has much warmer than normal water offshore and we are not even in the neighborhood.  Even more important is that our average sea surface temperature (around 50F) is roughly 30F colder than the minimum.  So it won't even be close- sea surface temperatures might become 5-10F warmer in a century---not anywhere close to 80F.

But the water temperatures around Hawaii are on the margin, so they will have to be watchful. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Latest pictures from Space

Updated 11:35 AM ET, Wed July 15, 2015 
PLUTO!! NASA Releases the newest images from Horizons


Do you see a heart of Pluto? This image was taken on Tuesday 7/7 by Horizons when it was about 5 million miles from the planet. The large bright area on the lower right - about 1,200 miles across - resembles a heart

This image of Pluto was captured by New Horizons on July 12 when the spacecraft was 1.6 million miles from the planet.







 This picture of Pluto's largest moon, Charon was taken july 12 when it was 1.6 million miles away.  It reveals a system of chasms larger than the Grand Canyon. 
Look closely at the images below.  This is the first time New Horizons has pohotographed Pluto's smallest and faintest moons, Kerberos and Styx.  The pics were taken from April 25 to may 1.

left: Pictures of Jupiter and its volcanic moon Lo taken early in 2007 - about a year into New Horizons 9 year journey to Pluto



below: On its way to Pluto, New Horizons snapped these pics of Jupiter's 4 large "Galilean" moons.  From left to right is Lo, Europa, Ganuymede and Callisto.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

NASA's New Horizons reaches Pluto - WATCH LIVE NOW

Started on Jul 14, 2015
The NASA New Horizons spacecraft had its closest encounter with Pluto on Tuesday after a nine-a-half-year journey to the dwarf planet. Watch NASA's live coverage here.

Today's Pluto Pictures from NASA

after a nine-year journey of more than 5 billion KM, NASA has released new images of Pluto and its moon Charon. 
The probe whizzed by the dwarf planet at 9:49pm (AEST) on Tuesday (7/14/15)


.
"This is truly a hallmark in human history," said NASA's head of the science mission directorate, John Grunsfeld.
Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, said it was "a moment of celebration because... we have completed the initial reconnaissance of the solar system, an endeavour started under president Kennedy more than 50 years ago, continuing today under president Obama."
Mr Stern also said it was very fitting that Tuesday marked the completion of New Horizons' exploration of Pluto, as it was exactly 50 years ago on that day that the first spacecraft flew to Mars.
Missions operation manager Alice Bowman said she had to "pinch herself" when she thinks about what they have accomplished.
Scientists confirmed the existence of a polar ice cap on Pluto, and found nitrogen escaping from its atmosphere. 

New Horizons' most recent reports show the dwarf planet to be 2,370 KM across, which is slightly larger than was estimated when the planet was downgraded from planet status to a dwarf planet.
New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever launched and is carrying an ounce of ashes of American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto.
The mission launched in 2006, the same year that Pluto was downgraded to "dwarf planet" status due to the celestial body's small size and New Horizons is the first spacecraft to fly past Pluto.
The probe's seven scientific instruments aim to reveal details of the surface, geology and atmosphere of Pluto and its five moons.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Miss Seattle's rain? This video might help...

Published: Jul 7, 2015 

It's been 36 days since Seattle has had a day considered below normal…

                                          A soggy day at the Seattle's Space Needle. (Photo courtesy: Brendan Ramsey

36 days since we've last had significant rainfall… 

23 days since we've last had a high below 70 degrees…

18 days since we've had a traditional cloudy day…

12 days in a row with highs above 80 degrees…

A record-tying 5 days in a row at 90 degrees…
"Enough already! I'm tired of this heat," said Melanie Nobles Hormann on our Facebook page.

"I am so ready for RAIN!!!!! It would be great to be back into the 60's," said Cathie Delaney. They're just two of the approximately 73% of people in my (un)scientific poll that said they were done with the heat, with many of those ready for some rain.

This blog is for those of you in that category. I can't make it rain outside, but I can make it rain on your computer screen. In addition to the photo gallery showing dozens of rainy photos here, I've compiled a little video of some rainy days here in Seattle to, if nothing else, give you three minutes of a pitter-pattering zen trip down memory lane to grayer, cooler times in Seattle.

Enjoy! 

Videos courtesy Mike McLaughlin and KOMO News Photographer Doug Pigsley)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hells Canyon Jet Boating

This may be as close as I get to jet boating this summer.  Check out this video from the front seat of a jet boat negotiating rapids along the Snake River in Hells Canyon.  See all the sites including big horn sheep, elk and sturgeon. Makes me home sick.






Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What's that flying saucer cloud over Mt. Rainier?

By    Published:   Nov 6, 2013

Photo of lenticular clouds over Mt. Rainier on Dec. 5, 2008. (Photo courtesy: Tim Thompson)






The infamous "cap cloud" that sometimes forms over Mt. Rainier has been the source of legends and folklore for ages around here. Some say it looks like an alien spaceship is descending on the mountain's summit.

But there's nothing mystical about how it's formed.

The cloud, known as a "lenticular cloud" is formed when you have three ingredients: Warm, moist air that is just on the cusp of saturation, laminar flow (when you have winds constant with height -- as in little to no turbulence or shear) and something big to get in the way, like, say, the region's tallest mountain.

When the air flows over the mountain, it will create waves downstream where the air is now going up and down, and up, and down -- like ripples on a pond or waves on the ocean. When the air goes up, it cools a little bit and when conditions are on the cusp of saturation, that slight cooling is enough to create a cloud. When the air sinks back down again, an opposite drying effect occurs and the cloud disappears.

While to us it might look like the clouds are floating in place, in fact, the air is streaming through the cloud as it hovers there -- the cloud is just showcasing the right spot in the atmosphere where the air is undergoing its lift and sink. Sometimes this occurs right over the summit, giving the mountain a hat. Other times, it's just downstream.

To get the "stack of pancakes" look, you have this effect happening at multiple layers. Watch closely in the video and you can see times where layers disappear and then magically reappear.
 
 
 
Mt. Rainier

Here is another amazing video showing their formation:
 
Mt. Rainier time lapse video of lenticular cloud formation
 
To locals, the clouds are a sign that rain is on the way -- usually within 24 hours. That's because that needed moist air with laminar flow usually occurs in the hours preceding a weather system. Think of it as Rainier unfurling its umbrella! :)

This Video from Oregon's Mt. Hood shows the air streaming up , over and down the mountain.

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