Category Archives: Weather

Same, Cedars! Same

The cedar trees were bent over pretty well in some stiff winds before the rain and snow moved in.

I know the feeling.

Same, cedars! Same. Bend, but don’t break.

But that’s a lot of bending. It’s been a long couple of weeks.

A day off, or five, would be nice. But not yet. “…miles to go before I sleep,” and all of that jazz.


Wait – did I say “snow?” Don’t I live in Los Angeles? Like, in the city, not up in the mountains?

Yes, and we didn’t get any snow here. (Yet.) We’re at 1,078 feet elevation and it’s only predicted to get “below 2,000 feet.” Which means that the Grapevine on I-5 (4,160′) going up to NorCal will be a mess, as will the I-15 (3,776′) headed out to Las Vegas. In addition, we all know that the San Gabriel mountains here in LA County go up to well over 10,000′, so there’s snow there all the time in the winter. (People are often amazed that there are ski resorts within a 60-90 minute drive of downtown LA.)

Remember Mount Wilson and the cameras we watched last summer with the brush fires there?

(Image from the HPWREN cameras on Mount Wilson, run by UC San Diego.)

It’s a freakin’ winter wonderland up there.

But closer to home? Places where you don’t normally get snow that often, maybe once a decade or less? Like, Malibu? You know, going through the Santa Monica Mountains between the San Fernando Valley (where I am) and the beach (where Malibu and Pepperdine University are)?

The tallest peak in Calabasas is 2,163′ and the tallest in the Santa Monicas is out in Ventura County at 3,114′. There are the canyon roads that run through there – twisty, turny, two lanes, can be fun, can be a nightmare if there’s an accident or landslide or rocks in the road or a brush fire? Topanga Canyon? Malibu Canyon? A bunch of those roads at their peaks go over 2,000’…

I would love to stay up all night to see if we get a dusting here so that I could go out in the yard and make a two-inch tall snowman – but I’m going to collapse and get some sleep instead.

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography, Weather

It Was A Marvelous Night…

…for…

And yes, I did.

The Moon was a day or so past full last Wednesday and there was a high layer of clouds covering the sky. Through that cloud layer the bright moon cast a moonbow, a bit of which I was able to catch in this image. To the eye it was almost a full circle around the moon, but not the 22° halo that you get through a high layer of ice clouds. This was much smaller and had much more color to it. Different phenomenon.

Better for dancing.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Weather

Moon & Rain

No Great Conjunction tonight – the expected rain finally arrived.

By last night, when the almost full moon was overhead as the clouds were coming in, I caught it poking through.

If you blow it up to full sized, over in that dark area on the left you can just see Orion through the hazy, thin, high clouds.

The rest of the day was cold and soggy. It was our first rain since April and there was over 1.5″ in our area, about three times what they were expecting. It was a good day to stay off the roads. It’s nuts driving in LA on the best of days, and when it rains it’s worse. When it’s the first rain of the season and all of that oil and grease is coming up out of the pavement and floating on top…

Tow truck drivers make big bucks, but with the hospitals 100% full from COVID and most of them putting up tents in the parking lots for the overflow, it’s not a good day to need a trip to the ER due to a car accident.

Stay safe out there, y’all. Three days left in this year, 22 days 13 hours 19 minutes and 27 seconds until the US Presidential Inauguration. (But who’s counting?)

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Filed under Photography, Weather

Cloudy Sunday

Again, no good view of the Great Conjunction from our part of the planet tonight.

The clouds were thin enough a couple of times to see Jupiter through, and I was pretty sure I could see Saturn at one point, but conditions were far from ideal for astronomy.

Tonight’s the peak of the Geminid meteor shower, which by all accounts from those reporting in from across the world and country is doing pretty well, several bright meteors per hour, even from light polluted cities. I may stick my head out before I go to bed. But I’ll have to remember to be back in by midnight. Not a Cinderella problem, but a much more practical issue with the lawn sprinklers coming on promptly at midnight.

I’m cold enough – cold and wet sounds like a good way to get sick. Sorry, there’s enough of that going around without going out and doing something stupid.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Weather

Cold Wind Sunset

The sunset was nice, if not spectacular. It’s chilly, and the winds are again really whipping up here on the hill.

How windy? Lemme tell you a story…

In my home office (aka one of the spare bedrooms) I prefer it warmer than the rest of the house, so I tend to keep the door closed. The computers and printers keep it warmer just fine. But unless I’m actually on a call or a Zoom meeting, I don’t necessarily want the door shut all the way, so I’ll leave it partially closed. Not latched, not open, but in that in-between position where the spring loaded latching mechanism has engaged and put some tension on the door frame, but it hasn’t clicked into the hole in the door frame yet.

Four or five times today the house has flexed enough with the pressure of the wind that it has torqued the rectangular, interior, hallway door frame enough to allow the latching mechanism to find the hole and snap shut. This sounds like a freaking rifle. And when it comes totally out of the blue, especially after it’s NEVER done this before in 2+ years here, it’s disturbing. Scares the shit out of me.

I’m not a fan of the wind.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography, Weather

Puffy Cloud Panorama

After adrenaline comes the crash and exhaustion…

And then more adrenaline…

A couple of weather systems have been moving through SoCal this weekend, bringing the season’s first snow up over the Grapevine, a few showers around the area (I don’t think we’ve gotten a drop, damn it!) which can be hazardous and cause mudslides in those recently burned areas, made it windy as hell, and brought the temperatures way down near freezing at night.

It’s the winds that are probably responsible for knocking out the power three times at the office. Since it was out long enough and often enough to outlast all of the Uninterruptable Power Supplies and kill the server and my office computer, I got to panic and run in to bring everything online again so I can hit my deadlines for tomorrow.

It’s a hell of a drug.

So is sleep. Or so I hear, at least.

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Filed under Panorama, Photography, Weather

Halloween Karma

Earlier today I was bemoaning the fact that the gods seemed to be mocking us quite deliberately. In past years, whenever possible, we would take several telescopes and binoculars out into the front yard on Halloween and show folks some planets and such while handing out candy. We lived on a street with lots of traffic, flat, just a few houses down from the elementary school, and we would always get a crowd. But we didn’t even try to do that last year since no one comes by this house for Halloween, which is on at the very top of a REALLY steep hill with almost no through traffic.

But tonight… Tonight would have been perfect. All day it’s been clear as a bell, not a cloud in the sky. And while some years there wasn’t anything too big and bright and easy to look at, tonight there’s Jupiter and Saturn and Mars and a full Moon!

Laughing gods suck.

“Fortunately,” it clouded up a bit. Which eased the sting a little. And gave us a nice sunset to send off October.

(click to see full sized image and scroll through it)

And once all was said and done, we never got a single trick-or-treater at our door. Not surprising – two years ago we only got two or three, last year we got zero, and this year with have COVID on top of it.

Tonight we turn our clocks back to end Daylight Saving Time, and then there’s something coming up on Tuesday that might cause some sturm und drang.

Hold on, folks. Here we go…

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Filed under Panorama, Photography, Weather

Windy Again

I woke up to the winds howling.

Out in front, it was a rough night for the flag.

We’ve seen this before. It has in the past been symbolic to me of what’s happening to our yard/city/county/region/state/nation/planet.

Looking around at today’s news, I think I’ll leave it for now. Maybe next week. After Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Depending on the news.

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Filed under Photography, Video, Weather

Smoky Sunset

The smoke sucks.

Another day of smelling it, sore eyes, a nagging small cough.

Even with that, while it’s not great here, it’s far, FAR worse in so many other places in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Not to mention the actual, you know, FIRES, that are killing dozens, could kill thousands, and are destroying entire towns and literally millions of acres of forests and grasslands.

But the special effects… WOW!

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Filed under Photography, Weather

Hazy Here – Infernos In NorCal

Here we had a bit of haze, a bit of smoke, enough to make the sunset orange-ish.

There are still three major fires in Southern California and a handful of smaller ones. The closest and biggest is about fifty miles to our northeast. All of them are still less than 20% contained, but burning off into some extremely steep, rugged, and empty terrain with few structures, homes, or power lines which would need protecting. Given how thinly stretched the air resources and ground troops and equipment are, they may just have to burn for a few days or few weeks.

Up north, in the Bay Area and over toward Davis and Sacramento, a series of large storms went through a few days ago with thousands upon thousands of lightning strikes into tinder dry terrain. It seems like everything is burning up there. The only county anywhere from San Jose to San Francisco to Oakland to Sacramento to Reno that doesn’t have out of control brush fires is San Francisco County, because it’s about 99% urban.

Elsewhere there are tens of thousands of people evacuated, and it might be 100,000+ by now. Nearer and dearer to my heart, tonight we’ve been watching the webcam (here) that looks over the Lick Observatory. It’s not looking good.

(Image: University of California Observatories / Lick Observatory)

The big dome’s the 3-meter telescope, with five others scattered around the peak near it. While the original observatory was build in 1888, the first observatory built on a mountain top, the current telescopes are still in use constantly.

Given all of the homes and lives threatened, I don’t know how many resources CalFire can put into defending Lick. Let’s pray that it’s enough.

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Filed under Astronomy, Disasters, Photography, Weather