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Sermon on The Sign

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And the Lord didst descend from heaven and alight upon the crossbar of the “H” closely followed by His detachment of divine handmaidens.
He then preached a parable through his megaphone unto the distant horde of tourists milling behind the security gates with their Nikons and Canons pointing toward the HOLLYWOOD sign upon which He was standing.

He forthrightly denounced Tom Hanks as being a false prophet and spake unto the people thus;  “Life is NOT like a box of chocolates.”

“Thou shalt think of life as being like an automobile.  It begins with the coming together of a nut and a bolt in the sanctity of holy design, and from this sacred union of nut and bolt the automobile grows with every passing hour. It’s heart beats, valves open and close, and the vital fluids of it’s existence flow to every extremity, and when the time is come to full term the factory doors open wide and another brand new little bundle of consumptive joy issues forth into the world.”

“And from that very day onwards, it gets older, it deteriorates, and it falls apart until one day the entire creation dies and crumbles back into the earth from whence it came.”

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Despite the almighty amplification this message was not heard by anyone at all because it was carried away on an unpredicted forty knot crosswind.
God was not amused and declared  “Lo and behold, today’s weather forecasters will, on the Day of Judgment, pay dearly for this ineptitude.”

After reading God’s subsequent press release, the President of the American Meteorologists Association, Michael Hector-Pascal angrily responded;  “This is horseshit!  After all, the wind shear was simply the result of an Act of Himself.  If He and His flock of aerodynamically challenged angels had not plummeted from the heavens with such celestial terminal velocity as to cause a localised area of low atmospheric pressure, then these strong winds would not have eventuated.”

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Ohio, Joy Scroggs  (here on the left)  was curled up watching the television coverage. During the commercial break she unfurled her long shapely middle-aged legs, admired them, then gently ran an appreciative hand down her thigh, secretly wishing that GOF could be there to do it for her.
The news story of the moment interrupted this delicious erotic reverie, so Joy turned to her housemates and commented;
“It just goes to prove that passing wind and public speaking should be kept as two separate events.”

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The Fujiwara Effect

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                                                          (also known as the Fujiwhara effect.)

In January 2010 there were two tropical cyclones in the Coral Sea at the same time.
Neville, close to our coast, and Olga rapidly approaching Neville from the East.   Two systems perfectly suited to begin the phenomenon known as the Fujiwara effect.

Dr Sakuhei Fujiwhara was a Japanese meteorologist in 1921 who, for reasons known only to himself, was farnarkling  around with laboratory experiments on vortexes and whirlpools in water. 
Maybe a childhood fascination with water disappearing down plug holes had opened his door to this scientific pathway.
Be that as it may or may not, he discovered unexpected interactions occurring when one vortex came under the influence of another, and it led him to postulate that similar effects would occur in the Earth's atmosphere, which behaves in a similar manner to the liquids he was experimenting with.

Only after weather satellites were launched in the 1960's could scientific proof be obtained, and observations made, to confirm his theories.

When two similar strength cyclones approach each other they will tend to cylindrically rotate around each other about a central pivot point determined by the relative strength of each system.

It is a relatively uncommon occurrence.  Perhaps twice a year in the Pacific ocean, and once every three years in the Atlantic.
(The difference explained simply because there are more cyclones each year in the Pacific.)

The two cyclones will rotate like a slowly turning horizontal dumbbell in a movement known as a Fujiwara dance or waltz.

The Fujiwara effect typically involves four stages.

1. Approach and capture; the orbits of the 2 storms begin to interact.
2. Mutual orbit;  begin Fujiwara dance.
3. Merger;  one storm if more intense will trap the smaller storm.
4. Escape; one storm may depart from the Fujiwara effect, or
    upper level atmospheric influences may cause the storms to
    split and resume independent courses.

Neville and Olga demonstrated this final scenario, making monkeys out of the forecasters attempting to predict tracks for the two systems.  Neville was fractured and flung more than 100km South, while Olga weakened into a rain depression on a westward track bringing drenching rain to us as well as a huge area of arid Northern and Central Australia.
Our rain gauge measured 548mm (22") in 4 days.

Isn't weather, nature and science absolutely fascinating and full of wonder?

Please forgive this burst of unrestrained meteorological enthusiasm.

P.S  "Farnarkle" is a little known Australian word meaning to "mess around with",
or more accurately "fart around with" something.

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Teaching ravens to fly underwater

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This title is from a wonderful bit of silliness by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore  (here) and it reminds me that today I am facing a difficult task.

I am going in to bat for weather forecasters.

Now this may take some time, and ultimately prove unsuccessful, so please feel free to go away and do something useful whilst I have this discussion with myself.

When we moved to GOF's paradise at the foot of a mountain, the old timers provided the very sage advice, probably repeated by wise old people in many countries and languages around the world;

"Only fools and newcomers attempt to predict the weather.
 If you can see the mountain, it MIGHT rain.
 If you can't see the mountain, it IS raining".

Meteorology and its related sciences excite me.  I have a fascination with weather.  An urge to understand the physics involved in creating and driving this powerful force of nature.
Weather related facts are awe inspiring and thought provoking.

There are 2000 thunderstorms operating around the earth at any given moment, each with the potential energy to build up to and beyond 50,000 feet into the atmosphere before dissipating in an explosion of water, ice and fire.

8000 lightning strikes once occurred in the space of a single weekend in California.

For my part of the world, after the winter solstice in June (we're a little funny like that in Australia), day length initially only increases around 10 seconds per day, gradually accelerating to 55 seconds per day in October.  
The sun it would seem, just like me, takes time to get its arse back into gear after winter. ****

The world is full of pretenders who claim the ability to predict weather, or give surrogacy to ants, frogs, birds,  or mango fruit stalks.
Fact is, no living organism can accurately predict weather.
It is random, and driven by forces so complex and powerful, that we, at this point in our evolution cannot fully understand them.

Bureau of Meteorology forecasting has come a long way in 100 years.  Tropical cyclones used to arrive "out of the blue" and cause huge loss of life.  Now they are identified early, are trackable, and increasingly their future direction of movement can be accurately forecast.

Air and sea travel around the world relies heavily upon weather forecasters for safety.  In recent years phenomena such as microbursts and wind shear, both of which are hazardous to aircraft, have become understood by meteorological science, and weather conditions conducive to their occurrence are now predicted.

I am happy for meteorology to remain an inexact science.  
Enjoying the sight and sound of an approaching thunderstorm,  the rainbow which follows, the sunsets, and the little white puffy clouds floating by, does not necessarily require me to apply scientific explanation.

And besides, the conflicts that we now see for political and economic control of the worlds oil and land resources will pale into insignificance should humans ever achieve total understanding and control over its weather.

**** For the benefit of any school child or university student who would seek to plagiarise my hard work and include it in some curricular thesis, then, you grubby little cheats, it is my responsibility to advise you that consensus amongst a majority of astrophysicists in 2009  is that the sun has neither gears, nor an arse.

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