Category Archives: Weather

The Fires Continue

We’re fine – still nothing that close to us, although another new fire has apparently started up over to the east by Monrovia.

Being Saturday, I was out at the hangar in Camarillo. The first big fire in this current sequence of six or seven fires started not too far from there and is still burning.

Map from Google.

For reference to assist those not familiar with Southern California, this is Ventura County, just to the north of Los Angeles. We live at the far west end of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County – on the right-hand border you can just see the edge of the dot that indicates where. The Camarillo Airport is just under the “101” icon between the words “Oxnard” and “Camarillo.”

For scale, from my house to the airport is about 35 miles on the freeway, almost exactly 25 miles as the crow flies. From my house to Carpenteria, on the far left edge of the map and just south of Santa Barbara, is about 50 miles directly.

This is not a small area. It’s “local” by Southern California standards, but it could cover the better portion of several states in New England.

Here’s what’s burned in this fire (which is in turn, as I said, one of about six going on right now):

Map from Google and CalFire. Scale is similar to the one above.

The fire started near Santa Paula on December 4th, spread toward Ventura, and is now moving up into the mountains and up the coast toward Carpenteria.

What’s that look like from the ground at Camarillo Airport?

On the far left you can see the smoke plume from the main fire up toward Carpenteria. Straight ahead you’re looking up toward the Santa Paula and Fillmore area. When I got there this morning things had started to die down a bit overnight, but the winds were starting to blow again.

By lunch we were looking at 30 mph winds with gusts to 45 mph. In the mountains and canyons where the fire was, it was worse. Naturally, this led to a number of flareups.

Looking toward Carpenteria.

Looking toward Santa Paula

I also learned that two of our CAF SoCal members lost their homes, burned to the ground. One of our members got out with literally just the clothes on his back, managing to get out in his wheel chair in the middle of the night when he woke with the house burning, finding his cars on fire in the driveway, and saved only because a neighbor saw him as they were bugging out and drove him to safety.

The winds are supposed to continue into tomorrow and then start dying down in the next week, but there’s no rain in the foreseeable future and these fires are now pushing up into the mountains where they’ll be very difficult to fight. There’s a lot of brush after a very wet winter last year and most of these areas haven’t burned in decades. These fires may still be burning well into 2018.



Filed under CAF, Disasters, Photography, Weather

Planes In Pea Soup

Yesterday I was working late at the CAF hangars. I went to stretch my legs out around the ramp and found that a bit of pea soup fog had rolled in. It was eerie with the flashing runway lights, the blue taxiway lights, the orange of the sodium vapor security lights, the dampened sounds, and the fog.

So of course, I grabbed my camera.

I didn’t have a tripod for the long exposures (two and a half to five seconds), but in a pinch I was able to make do with an office chair.

The PBJ had been prepped for her mission today (see below).

The SNJ and C-46.

The other plane to the right of the C-46 is the AAF’s B-25, “Executive Sweet.”

What was our PBJ’s mission for today? We did the flyby over the LA Coliseum before the Rams-Saints NFL game!

For video of the flyover from inside one of the T-34 escort aircraft, see this afternoon’s post on our CAF SoCal Facebook page.


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Filed under CAF, Photography, Weather

Spooky Explained?

A few days ago I posted pictures of “Spooky Finger Clouds“:

Some speculated that it might be contrails or something, but the explanation turns out to be more exotic.

See a day or so later:

Hey, you can see our house from here!

While they’re referred to as “gravity wave clouds,” they’re not in fact (much to my disappointment!) caused by gravity waves like those produced by colliding black holes. They’re caused by oscillations in the atmosphere where a disturbance of some sort causes moist air to rise and fall (due to gravity) much like ripples spreading out from a stone dropped into a pond.

The end result is that you get these rows of linear clouds. They can be extremely spectacular – they’ve even been seen on Mars!

Science! For The Win!

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Clouds vs Luna, Part Deux

Some nights, especially after a week when you just want to beat your head against a brick wall until the fear stops, it’s good to stop and say, “Hey! That’s pretty freakin’ neat looking! Maybe that wall can wait until tomorrow!”

Thanks, Moon! Thanks clouds!

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Spooky Finger Clouds

Two days late for Halloween, but tonight we got partial clearing of the coastal clouds with a bright moon to boot. I took a bag of trash out and saw these odd, somewhat parallel stripes of clouds:

That’s a pretty good representation of what I saw, except they seemed spookier being lit up by the moonlight like that. Enhanced for brightness and contrast:

It was almost like there was a humongous hand up in the sky, reaching down to grab me.

Which, if I’m wrong about the atheism bit, could in fact happen at just about any time!


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Halloween 2017

When possible we celebrate Halloween by bringing out the telescopes and binoculars and throwing a star party on the front sidewalk while handing out candy. It has on occasion been spectacular.

After a year or two in which there wasn’t a lot of easy stuff to see from the bright, light polluted city, tonight was going to be great! The quarter moon was high and a trivially easy target. Saturn was up in the west and by the time it set Jupiter would be up in the east. Easy peasy.

Not tonight. The weather gods hate us.

Did anyone see the World Series Game Six from Dodger Stadium, which is about twenty miles from here as the crow flies? Drizzle, clouds, occasional light rain? Most of the actual rain missed us, but the clouds had us totally socked in.

The neighborhood knows us and we got asked all night about the telescopes. Sorry, I don’t have a radio telescope. If we have to stick to the optical wavelengths, tonight it was nothing but listening to the Dodgers game and handing out candy.

Also, in an hour NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts. As much as I enjoyed participating in past years (just search this site for “NaNoWriMo”), just as I was forced to admit last year, there’s no way this year that I have the time to even think about participating.

Not surprisingly to me, having participated in both activities, NaNoWriMo reminds me a LOT of running a marathon. Just as I am melencholy watching the LA Marathon every year when I’m not running (which is most of them these days – I ran in 2011 and 2012, trained but didn’t fun in 2013 and 2014) I will no doubt be wishing that I was writing every day in November. The reality of my schedule and multiple other commitments is little consolation.

As noted previously, being a responsilbe adult can suck.


Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Weather, Writing

East & West

The weather in Southern California has once again turned – for the moment. After a week of triple-digit temperatures, we’re headed back down into the 70’s, with the coastal areas even cooler.

This morning this translated to fog along the coast as a heavy marine layer moved in. Driving out to the CAF hangar in Camarillo it was bright and sunny through the San Fernando Valley and the Thousand Oaks area. But going over the edge of the Canejo Grade down into Camarillo it was like being in a plane, descending into an ocean of clouds.

When I left tonight, the difference between the view to the east and to the west was indicating that tonight would be more of the same.

To the east it was still sunny, the airport water tower brightly lit with a quarter moon high above.

To the west, just off the coast and moving in quickly, was the fog bank.

Sort of like life these days. Bright and sunny? Dank and gloomy? Caught between them? If you’re stuck with one, wait it out, the other will come.

Are there fewer monsters in the light than in the fog? Or do we just see them differently? Or ignore them?

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Filed under CAF, Photography, Weather