Category Archives: Weather

Monsoonal Flow

As pretty much everyone in North America west of the Mississippi knows, it’s been hot as Hell all week.

In this neck of the woods there’s also been some moisture coming up from a tropical storm off of Baja, so it hasn’t been a dry heat.

As the moist air hits the coast it rises a bit and starts to form clouds – as it hits the mountains, it rises a lot and starts to form thunderheads.

As much as we could use the rain (we’re in a massive drought, bordering on outright emergency conditions), all we usually get is lightning – which, added to the heat and drought, is threatening to make this a brush fire season that’s worse than last year, and last year was the worst EVER on record.

Going to be a long summer, folks.

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Big Clouds, Mid-Sized Jets, Tiny Hummingbirds

Big clouds. Broken. Puffy. Probably VFR conditions breaking through that deck, but I don’t know if I would push my luck and go through on a check ride.

More clouds to the north but a different pattern. Can you see the tiny hummingbird?

Now can you find the tiny hummingbird? How about the mid-sized jet? A Southwest 747 to be exact, going straight in to Burbank Runway 8. Small compared to the clouds, huge compared to the hummingbird, mid-sized compared to a 747.

It’s all perspective.

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Filed under Birds, Flying, Photography, Weather

The Clouds Won Last Night

The odds were in their favor, as we saw all day yesterday. I did not have my hopes up and I wasn’t disappointed.

I got up at 02:30, about the time the partial phases were supposed to be starting.

I sort of remember wandering around to look out the window about 04:00-ish – there as a dim reddish spot in the clouds over in the west, but nothing that prevented a quick retreat to a warm bed.

A few hours later, of course:

That’s a stunning shade of blue – where was it ten hours earlier?

Even toward the west, where the coast and the haze and the “coastal eddy,” “May gray,” “June gloom” always lurk, it was unlimited visibility.

The next total lunar eclipse for the US West Coast is November 8, 2022, seventeen and a half months away. I’m sure the weather forecast is for clouds. (Yes, there’s an earlier total lunar eclipse on May 16, 2022, just under a year away, but it’s occurring just as the moon is rising in Los Angeles, so we might not see much of it at all.)

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Stupid, Stupid, Pretty Sunset!

I’ve been watching all day.

It hasn’t looked that great.

It did give us a very pretty sunset, but that’s sorta counterproductive for tonight’s particular goal.

Now, at 23:05 local, with totality beginning at 04:11 local, a little over five hours from now, it’s… complicated.

On the one hand, it looks spectacular.

On the other hand, it’s about 80% cloud covered – and getting worse.

I’ve got the cameras all ready to go and the alarms set – we’ll see if I can drag my sorry butt out of bed in the middle of the night to at least check to see how cloudy it is.

Let the games begin.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Sunsets, Weather

Twenty-Seven Hours & Counting

Tomorrow night there’s a total eclipse of the moon, visible from all over the Pacific hemisphere. If you’re in Europe or eastern North or South America, better luck next time. If you’re in Hawaii, you’re golden. In eastern Australia or New Zealand, you’ll see it in the east not too long after moonrise. If you’re in Los Angeles or on the US West Coast, you’ll see it just before sunrise.

Unlike solar eclipses (*NEVER* look at a solar eclipse with the naked eye or any kind of magnification), lunar eclipses are 100% safe to look at with the naked eye, or with binoculars, or a telescope. In this case, if you’re in LA or San Diego or San Francisco or Phoenix or Seattle (you get the idea) your biggest issues will be possible clouds and getting up at 03:00. (I plan on being ready, getting up, checking for clouds, and if they’re there, I’m back in bed!)

Here’s a great site for information on when the different phases of the eclipse start, including detailed information for major cities. This is a short eclipse by lunar eclipse standards. The full phase of the eclipse is only fourteen minutes long, 04:11 to 04:25 in Los Angeles.

After being “clear and a bazillion” for the whole day, I rolled the telescope out late this afternoon and within second it was starting to cloud up.

By the time the moon rose and cleared those trees, it was downright “yucky.” (That’s an official, technical, internationally recognized astronomy term by the way.) I was testing out my equipment for attaching my good DSLR cameras directly to the telescope, using it as a humongous telephoto lens.

The moon was there – the focus wasn’t.

I’m going to blame the clouds. Which is not unreasonable at all, they were an issue.

In addition, right around full moon (we’re 27 hours away, since lunar eclipse = full moon, by definition = do the geometry) most of the moon’s surface looks flat and featureless.

The “good” pictures are always along the terminator, the division between night and day on the lunar surface, where the shadows are sharp.

You can see a tiny bit of that along the top side, where some of the craters on the limb (edge of the visible disk) are highlighted. But not much.

For example, this picture showing the center of the moon with no portion of the limb? Lots of rays and some bright spots, but no shadows with the Sun almost straight overhead.

We’ll see what tomorrow night / Wednesday pre-dawn brings for the eclipse. Keep your fingers crossed!

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Weather

The Clouds Win – No Supermoon Tonight

In the latest round in the unending battle between the clouds and the wonders of the Universe which they can and will obscure every chance they get, tonight we got this at sunset:

That’s due west right at sunset. Ignore the trees, they aren’t the problem.

Somewhere out there also was the “Pink Super Moon” rising. It’s not just a theory, I know it was there and rising because I have a great deal of faith in celestial mechanics.

But in every direction all you could see were clouds.

There were spots where a bit of fading blue showed through, but there were more places where the cloud deck was thick and threatening.

I saw reports from friends around the LA area that in places it was even starting to rain. (Which, as I said last night, we sorta desperately need, but…)

So no “super moon,” pink or otherwise for us. Just maybe some drizzle so I can shut off the sprinklers for one more night.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Weather

The Dark & The Light

If you’ve seen my pictures of comets and conjunctions and ISS passes and so on you’ll remember that there’s a really bright, annoying, pain in the ass street light right at the south corner of our front yard.

Suddenly, about a week ago, it went out.

That’s it in the lower left, silhouetted in the dim moonlight and light pollution. No idea why, no clue when they’ll be by to fix it.

So, NOW!! Quick!! Before they fix it! Get out the telescope and cameras! (Although the view of Woodland Hills is nice…)

Except that, OF COURSE, every night since it went out has been cloudy and dark and it’s a big deal to kinda, sorta, maybe see the moon poking through the holes.

Who says that the gods don’t have a sense of humor?

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Weather

Turbulence

The skies matched my soul this week…

…turbulent, troubled…

…uplifted at times (convection builds thunderstorms as unstable air heats and rises),…

…overwhelmed by downdrafts (crashing to earth) at others.

Always both threatening and beautiful, but sometimes dangerous.

May your days this weekend, in the upcoming week, and on into spring be an appropriate balance of sunny, cloudy, and rainy.

No rainbows without at least a bit of rain.

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Storm Panorama

Another day of rain (which is good, we’re in a drought year – AGAIN), but no hail here today, although there was a couple of inches of it up in Simi Valley, just a few miles to our northwest.

What we did get here that we didn’t yesterday was lightning and thunder, which I dearly, dearly love.

Panoramic view of thunderstorm clouds(Click to open up full sized)

It was widely scattered, so there were huge swaths of deep blue skies with blindingly white, puffy clouds (on the left, to our south over Malibu) while just a few miles to our northwest, all that hail was being dumped on Simi Valley. That convective cell in the center-right was one of several that rolled over us, rattling the house with thunder every couple of hours, occasionally soaking us.

It was not a boring weather day.

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Filed under Panorama, Photography, Weather

Hail, Yeah!

It rained in Los Angeles today. Yes, for those of you who have never lived here, that *IS* a big deal, especially in a drought year like this.

Even more importantly, especially for storytelling and narrative interest purposes, we got hail and I happened to be out in it instead of being locked away in COVID quarantine for the 356th day in a row.

Just after spending almost three hours (AGAIN!!) in the dentist’s chair, having horrible, torturous things done to my body and face and jaw and teeth, I was driving home and had to stop in a local Target store of a couple of quick things that the grocery store didn’t carry.

And, yes, there were other folks out there with their cell phones taking picture of this icy hazard, our very own snowdrift! (Or “icedrift.” Or “temporary accumulation.” Or whatever.)

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography, Weather