Weather window for crossing the Drake Passage

In the northern hemisphere as we move toward the winter solstice, our counterparts in the southern hemisphere are approaching their summer solstice with the longest day of the year on the way. At the highest latitudes of the southern hemisphere, this is the time of year when ocean voyages are possible. In particular, it is possible to get to Antarctica, and there has been an increase in both commercial and recreational passages in this part of the world in recent years. Even at this time of the year, though, passages in these areas come with significant risks. In fact, a…
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Rocks in the Pond

Almost everyone is familiar with what happens when one tosses a small rock into a calm pond. The rock displaces the water level where it impacts the pond, and as the water level rebounds toward the equilibrium level, waves are generated which propagate away from the point of impact in concentric circles. This is a manifestation of the energy that the rock imparted to the surface of the water. A similar phenomena applies when tossing a small rock into the ocean, but the difference is that most of the time, the ocean is not calm, and waves already exist. In…
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Dogwood and Cactus

Dogwood and Cactus

The title might suggest that this newsletter will be about flowering trees and desert succulents. Rather, the title refers to two new supercomputers that NOAA placed into service in late June of 2022. These computers are twins, meaning that they have nearly identical capabilities so that when one needs to be taken down for maintenance or upgrades, there is no loss of operational capability. They are located in separate parts of the country, again, allowing for redundancy in the case of some sort of an issue at one of the sites. They are some of the fastest computers in the…
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Solstice weather charts

Solstice weather charts

For this newsletter, I thought it might be a good idea to look at a few surface forecast charts and go through the features of the charts. This has been done before, but it is always good to have a refresher for this material, and there have been a few changes in the charts in recent years. Then I realized that we have just passed the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, so it made sense to look at some charts produced on the summer solstice, and also to look back at the same charts produced on the winter solstice…
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Weather, October 2021

Weather, October 2021

Sometimes we just need to laugh. Dealing with the global pandemic over the past year and a half has been tough on all of us. On top of this, the past two Atlantic hurricane seasons (this one is not quite over yet) have been extremely active and have resulted in significant property damage and destruction that has seriously impacted the lives of many people. Unfortunately, there have also been many injuries and fatalities associated with sone of these storms. The forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center have done a great job providing timely and accurate forecast information for the…
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We are now well into the 2021 hurricane season and are watching the evolution of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic and the Pacific. In the past I have used these newsletters to present some information about particularly memorable hurricanes, but this time let’s take a look at a system that, while impactful for some, has not been a historic system by any measure. This system was very slow to develop despite traveling over some rather warm ocean waters at times during the first part of its history. I will examine this system through a series of satellite images with comments…
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In the last newsletter I speculated on the possible retirement of hurricane names over the past two Atlantic hurricane seasons. Recall that it is the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) that generates the lists of names that are used for tropical cyclones around the world, and because of the Covid-19 pandemic, they had been unable to meet after the 2019 hurricane season to decide which names should be retired from the list because the storms were particularly impactful in terms of property damage and/or loss of life. The WMO committee in charge of this task finally met (virtually) in March of…
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The 2020 hurricane season was one for the history books. For just the second time in modern times, the list of Atlantic storm names was exhausted, requiring the use of the Greek alphabet. The last time this happened was in 2005, which was the year of Katrina. In that year, storm names extended six deep into the Greek alphabet, with the final storm that year having the name “Zeta”. For the 2020 season, the names went all the way to Iota (the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet). The final storm advisory for the 2020 season was issued on November…
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