Showing posts with label Weather. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Weather. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow on Snow

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.
  [Christina Georgina Rossetti, A Christmas Carol]

Is one’s sense of extreme weather a function of age? Does frequent and massive snowfall produce dreads in men with creaky joints as shoveling is yet again ahead? So it seemed this morning. Snow on snow today, but in the here and now, and in such dense veils that I could barely make out the garage this morning at eight. It’s all way too much, I thought this morning. The “too much” included the contents of the Wall Street Journal; I only found it after groping about in the snow; it had been buried on our front step and well enough so that even its shape had been obscured. My rational self, which always only echoes the patterns of the past, put a sarcastic stop to such gloomy reflections. “Look it up,” it said. “I bet it’s not even a record-setting season.” So I did.

Well, it turns out, that snow on snow this year is certainly record-breaking. I looked up snow fall in December and January for 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14. Two years ago we had 15 inches of snow in these two months, a year ago 19.4 inches, and this year 56.5 inches (link). These numbers apply to the Detroit Metro area generally; we know from Monique that results were even more extreme on the other side of the Metro.

For once the rational self was wrong—and Brigitte as usually right. Therefore writing about snow seems justified by the actual results out there, carefully measured by the Weather System.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Shivery Doubt

Windy, grey, overcast day.
The temp gauge strains to reach but
Doesn’t quite manage to touch
Fifty-eight degrees of F.

This summer so far seems to
Lack those bruising torrid can’t
Breathe spells of heat that cause me
To believe that Global Warming rules.

The sun has a huge hole, or
Had, some coronal void
From which vast tongues outward bound
Lick the darks of space. No link.
Fear naught, we’re told. Not that, not that.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Marker

Spring must not be permitted to arrive without notice—although it seems still to be obdurately Winter out there. Last year the forsythia and willow were blooming on the day of the Vernal Equinox (that came yesterday); this year not even a hint of color from either. The temperature outdoors this morning is 19° F (-7° C); last year it was 55° F, 13° C. Weather Underground (link) tells me that today is the coldest it has been in a decade on this day. Patience.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Felt in the Here and Now

Back toward the end of April of this year, I posted the temperature in Detroit on April 29 for a decade (link). My source for these data was the Weather Underground (link); the site offers the same service for any sizeable metro area. Now today, November 11, is the anniversary of “bringing the plants in” last year. This sort of thing looms LARGE in the lives of the old. Our plants came in much earlier this year (the last were in October 28)—but after that the temperature went up again. This morning the thermometer said 55° F as I checked it at 8:30, which led to my making a November 11 chart. And here it is:

Well, well. There is that upward spike. For November 11, the 2012 measurement is the highest in a decade. For April 29, the 2012 measurement was the lowest in a decade. In both cases, however, the trend line of these data slants down. I show it on the graphic. Now, of course, one-year measurements of temperature, a year apart and in one rather small region, are not particularly meaningful in any sense—except for personal amusement. Weather-systems change without much reference to calendars. What such an exercise illustrates, however, is why it is so difficult to find consensus on global warming. People experience the weather here and now and down and under, on the small spot where they live. And if the weather disagrees with our ideological bent, why we need but wait a day or two and it will promptly “get with the program.”

As I pointed out in April, we have two outdoor thermometers, one affixed to the garage, one to a wooden fence near-by. They never show the same temperature. I should mount a third one to make the case even more telling—but what with the fiscal cliff rapidly approaching, we’re saving our money.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Put the Hood Up, Get the Paper

A faint white sheen overlaid our rust-colored sunroom roof this morning at 7 am. A touch of frost, I thought, echoing the title of a Brit Detective series. The plants out there, the few we’ve put outdoors a little early, looked as if they hadn’t minded, but I got curious. So here we are, one day in the year, April 29. One place in the United States, Detroit. I thought I’d look back at this single day and chart the low temp for a decade. Here it is:

I had to choose “Detroit” rather than this suburb, because “historic” data aren’t published for smaller places, but in Grosse Point Farms the temperature was the same as in “Detroit,” 30° F. Moreover, the pointer lay on 30 on the hanging thermostat out in our yard as well.

One day, 11 years, one place. Not quite a sample of anything, but in my book of days April the 29th certainly displays a downward trend in temps. Averaging year to year changes produces a drop of 0.6 degrees in this period, but such things, in the greater realm, don’t even merit being called “noise.” But it gives me, numbers-gnome that I am, a rich sense of control to get these values and to chart them. But then, and real numbers-gnomes know this in their bones, even a local temperature requires, to be really representative, many, many measurements. We have two in our yard, and they are always a degree apart—and yet they are within about fifteen Monty-Python-John Cleese exaggerated high-steps apart. True knowledge isn’t power; it is humility.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot July

It’s blistering outside but cool in my basement. The head doesn’t work in the heat and must be distracted. I’ve distracted myself by looking for long-term temperature charts provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Mind, they don’t actually administer the oceans and the atmosphere; nor do they service the weather through the National Weather Service. But they measure and record things. Here, for instance, are charted data for two years, 2000 and 2010, showing both temperature and precipitation for the Detroit, MI metro area:

Of interest here is the dark blue quiver overlaying the green and topped and tailed by pink and blue. The dark blue indicates actual highs and lows. I’ve looked at a decade of such charts, and with one exception (2003, in which August looked hotter), July uniformly ranks as the hottest month. The inset is a legend to the graph above. Clicking it will make it easier to comprehend. The pink colors are all time highs, the blue the all time lows, and the green is an average of the highs and lows.

If we compare the two years, looking at July, we see that temperatures were generally lower in 2000 than in 2010. And looking at all of the annual plots (available here—and you can enter your own city to localize the display) shows a steady increase in temperature to the current time.

The graphic on the left shows July-only data for 2000, 2010, and 2011. I graphed the 2011 data myself from published figures through July 21, thus yesterday. 2011 looks like it is aiming for a record too…

Knowing which I pause for a moment to contemplate our fate. The dehumidifier is working hard in the background by the work bench, its sound rather calming, reassuring. It’s still working—and my screen is lit—but several very large communities are without power. The basement may still be cooler than the living room—and in those power-challenged communities you will enter the bedrooms upstairs at your own peril. The flashlight directed at the screen of the computer downstairs will show nothing but screen! Ah, the bennies and brownouts of a high tech society.