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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Newest GOES weather spacecraft

Newest GOES weather spacecraft

NOAA released a photo today from its latest Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), GOES-18. The image shows the Western Hemisphere from 22,236 miles out into space. GOES-18 was launched on March 1, 2022 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This latest version of the GOES line has an Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument that can see Earth using 16 different channels, each measuring energy at different wavelengths along the electromagnetic spectrum. This allows the satellite to gather data about Earth’s atmosphere, land, and ocean. This is good news for voyagers, as better imagery translates into better marine forecasts. From the press release: "GOES-18…
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For East Coast voyagers, Bermuda is an attractive option for an offshore passage. Either as a destination or a stopping point before proceeding south to the Bahamas and the Caribbean or east to the Azores and the Med. There's also the offshore races from the East Coast: Newport/Bermuda, Marion/Bermuda, Annapolis/Bermua and others. As such a popular destination, the weather surrounding Bermuda is naturally of interest to voyagers. And according to a recent study, those waters are experiencing increasingly stormy weather during the last 60 years. According to the study, the researchers noted "...a statistically significant increase (r = 0.94, p…
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