Category Archives: Weather

Moments Of Zen

It was windy. A pretty steady 20+ knots with gusts to 30+. The wind chimes were working overtime.

And dry. The hummingbird feeders were empty and Little Bastard was pissed. Every time I went out into the back yard he was buzzing me, reminding me that the feeders were empty. I finally took them down, cleaned them, and put more nectar in them.

After dark the clouds and fog of the past several evenings were gone (of course!) and our three current planetary visitors were still lined up nicely.

For those of you needing an assist to ID them:

Keep breathing, folks.

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Filed under Astronomy, Birds, Critters, Photography, Space, Video, Weather

A Touch Of Fall Color

It’s no “Black River along VT Route 11 between Springfield and I-91,” but we do get a tiny bit of color here in SoCal.

You’ve got to look quick – “peak color” here is measured in hours, not days.

It also helps to get in close – easier to ignore the bright green citrus trees and the palm trees all around. Helps the fall color mood.

On the other hand, in about three months it’s going to be below zero with hip deep snow in Vermont, while it will still be in the 90’s and sunny here.

Just sayin’…

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Filed under Photography, Weather

Yes, We Actually Do That In California

It’s a common meme or urban myth about California folks, but there’s a basis in fact behind it.

Not everyone. Not everywhere in the state. But a lot of folks, in a lot of places.

Yes, rain is rare enough here so that when there’s a good, solid rain shower after a long, long drought folks do stop what they’re doing and go take videos of it and watch in awe.

On the other hand, M3.9 earthquakes barely bother to wake us up, whereas folks from Iowa or North Carolina would need new pants due to the panic.

Pick your poison.

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Filed under Video, Weather

Big Old Planes

And puffy clouds!

Our AN-2 on the left, C-46 on the right.

It was still raining at home, 35 miles away, and the big storm is moving in tonight through late Monday.

Difference in pictures is the normal iPhone 13 lens on the top, the wide angle lens (and about ten steps forward) on the bottom.

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Filed under CAF, Photography, Weather

iPhone 13 Panorama Surprise

Yesterday’s awful lot of blue did eventually include a few clouds and a bit of drizzle this morning.

(Clickenate to embiggenate!)

We would have much preferred a half-inch to an inch of steady rain every day for the next several weeks. We’re in a multi-year drought and if we don’t get some decent rain this year we might start to really be hurting. But we’ll take what we can get, I guess. You’ve got to start somewhere.

Meanwhile, after going out and testing the new phone camera on some deep blue and puffy whiteness, I noticed something exciting!

On my old iPhone 6, the panorama pictures covered about 310º, so I would have to think a bit about what 50º or so I wanted to leave out. It never occurred to me that the iPhone 13 might do better. (My bad!)

In the photo here, you’ll notice those cypress trees on the left and again on the right? They’re the same trees! The iPhone 13 panorama mode doesn’t cut off at 310º or so, it goes all the way to about 390º, MORE than a full circle!

This makes me stupidly happy, but then again, as many have noted, I am a simple creature.

Needless to say, expect more panoramas in your future.

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Filed under Panorama, Photography, Weather

An Awful Lot Of Blue

Considering that they say we’re going to get a tiny bit (maybe 0.10″ at best) of rain (every drop is appreciated!) tonight and tomorrow morning, there sure wasn’t any sign of it this afternoon!

No processing, straight out of the iPhone 13, no filters.

Here’s to finding the joy in a (potentially) rainy Monday morning and a new week!

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Filed under Photography, Weather

Mammatus

Prior to last night’s little episode with lightning & thunder (which almost blew me into next month), the approaching storm gave a fantastic display of mammatus clouds just before it got dark.

Usually seen at the bottom of a cumulonimbus cloud, they’re a sign of a huge amount of turbulence above as opposing updrafts and downdrafts in the clouds churn the air.

The name comes from their sack-like appearance, looking like breasts hanging down from the clouds. As a pilot, I would avoid flying underneath.

We don’t see these out in this part of the world often, so this was a treat. This particular storm cell was just starting to drop some light rain, and it had moved on and wasn’t responsible for the lighting and thunder later, but with this sort of activity building you can bet that it lit up the skies up over Ventura and Santa Barbara counties later.

What stood out in a wider view is the distinct difference in the cloud’s appearance across the bottom. On the right you see it smooth and fairly featureless where rain was starting to fall and obscure the mammatus formations above it.

But on the left you can still see up through a hole in the rain layer to the higher formation in the cloud. I was surprised to see that foundry so clearly defined.

Mammatus clouds – a good sign that meteorological mischief is afoot. And maybe a good time to get inside, or at least under the porch awning, and off of the golf course or lawn.

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Filed under Photography, Weather

Lightning

Sort of out of nowhere today the weather kicked up over the Catalina Channel to our south and a series of fairly good sized thunderstorm cells started drifting north over the Los Angeles basin. We don’t get that sort of weather often, maybe once every couple of years at best, and often even when we do, the storms tend to drift inland into Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and miss us over here at the far west end of Los Angeles County.

Not today.

It’s no secret that I absolutely ❤ LOVE ❤ rain and thunderstorms. So when they started coming in, I grabbed a whole slew of cameras and gear over the evening to take pictures of the clouds (some fantastic pictures of mammatus clouds right over head), to listen to the rain, wind, and thunder, and to try to catch lightning strikes on video.

Eventually about 20:30 there was a good sized cell sitting just to our south.

(Image from NOAA High-Def Weather Radar app)

Sitting out in the back yard, listening to the rain pounding on the back porch roof and the howling of the wind, seeing the flashes of lightning, this (long-ish, 4:31 total) clip ends (at 3:36) with a HUGE boomer. That was a good one!

A little later things had fired up again and a couple of big thunder boomers had rattled the house, so I took my iPhone out into the front. Another cell was coming in south of Calabasas, so I started recording. It was raining pretty hard, so I stayed on the porch, but then I couldn’t see the sky real well, so I decided to walk down to the garage door, figuring I could lean against the garage and stay pretty much out of the rain, but still have a good view of the sky. Just as I got there, at about 0:55 in this clip, and turned around… (I urge caution if you’re listening with headphones or earbuds or have the volume turned up!!)

BOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!

How I managed to not clear out the deepest darkest corner of my obscenity directory, I’ll never know. How I managed to not come in with brown jeans when I went out with blue jeans, I’ll never know.

Curious, once I got my heart rate back down into double digits, while editing the video I checked a few figures on the timeline.

The frame where the bolt struck, at 1:02977 seconds.

The frame where the sound hit, at 1.04070 seconds.

That’s an elapsed time of 1.093 seconds. With the speed of sound being 1100 feet per second, that means that the bolt hit somewhere down the street 1,202 feet away.

That’s a really high “pucker factor.”

Furthermore, look at the soundtrack magnified way, way up:

About 1/20 second before the sound hit, there’s this.

An extremely vivid part of my memory of the event is that the incredibly bright flash hit, but in that 1.093 seconds between the strike and the sound I very distinctly heard a frying or sizzling noise, almost like someone on the roof right above me had a big sheet of cellophane and was crumbling it up into a ball. I think this is that sound. Why I would hear it separate from the “BOOOOOOM!” and every so slightly earlier, I don’t know.

Looking at the map shows more waves of showers building to the south and headed our way…

…with more behind that.

It could be a VERY long night!

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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