Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hurricane Chasing

I Took My Eye Off The Ball
Writing about the tropical storms and Chubascos of Baja got me thinking about my own data gathering. I realized that the past few years I've been "late to the party" so to speak. Going back to roughly 2002-2003, I was hearing something from the pangueros and our friend Eric every October: "The Pacific is about six weeks behind schedule", they said.

Two and a half hours by jet north, salmon and crab fishermen were singing the same refrain. I hadn't connected the dots until just now. The "Behind Schedule Pacific" is an indicator! I just wasn't paying attention. Satellite data shows the Eastern Pacific, as well as Global Temperatures have been cooling since 1998. Maybe the PDO phase shift? Maybe something Solar...the jury's still out, cause-wise. But there's your change, observed on the ground, in the trenches...well, standing in pangas on the Sea of Cortez, anyway.

Missing those two pivotal months of weather-geek exercise have dulled my senses, making me susceptible to "Forecast Malaise" When the annual changes begin in my local weather-sphere, I haven't been as tuned into the flow as I usually am. Is it any wonder I've been getting surprised more often than I'm comfortable with?

This past weekend, my niece and her new husband were in Carmel for a Wedding Weekend. They attended a Beach Bonfire on Friday night, and regaled us with stories of the "T-shirt and shorts" temps on the beach at 11PM! Late Summer on Central California beaches are usually cold, foggy affairs, unsuitable for shirt sleeves, shorts, or sandals, unless it's "Indian Summer"...It's not.

There have been more systems off our coast this summer than I remember from years past. Most of these systems were "cut off Lows", without much upper air support, consequently they were nearly impossible to model, much less forecast. These wandering wild cards, have made all kinds of mischief. Like I said yesterday...mea culpa!

The old saw, "Mister, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?"...
"Practice, son...practice" is the Gospel Truth.
There's more to this than I was admitting to myself.

Remote Viewing
The very phrase means something mysterious to Art Bell listeners. Art Bell is an All-Night Radio Talk Show Host. Lots of Groomers listened to Art every night. Art's Show "Coast To Coast AM" leaned heavily to the Strange Side of Things. Lots of UFO Talk, Crop Circles, Hauntings and Ghost Hunters, Paranormal Researchers, Indian Shamen, Mediums, Remote Viewers, and Psychics. All of 'em had time on Art's Shows.

Balancing these fringe-dwellers were the Real Scientists...Theoretical Physicists, Astronomers, Seismologists, and serious Researchers of every stripe. Open, unscreened callers kept things on the lighter side when the Really Big Ideas strained the brain.

Art's retired from full time broadcasting now, and he was just inducted into the "Radio Hall of Fame" As a matter of fact, he did the Show Sunday night...from his new home in Manila, in the Philippines. Art got where he is by treating every guest on his show with respect, until they lied to him. Those guests never got on The Art Bell Show again. Art had a stable of recurring guests over the years, and his show was always...good radio. The rough nights on the Mountain were a little easier to take when Art was on.

Remote Viewing, according to Remote Viewers, is a Paranormal Science that helps trained practitioners see distant events, find missing children and murder victims, and to help solve vexing mysteries to help with National Security issues...some claim there's a CIA Section or was a CIA Remote Viewing Program. I've always thought it was all a bunch of hokum. Remote viewers can do all these things, but can't find Osama bin Laden, Lacy Peterson's remains, or Jon Benet's killer...I'm not buying...if this worked, wouldn't they pick winning stocks, horse races, or SuperBowl Point Spreads?

In my world, Remote Viewing is something done on the Internet...sometimes utilizing webcams, but any type of online sensor, or person online, can be part of My "Remote Viewing Program" For me, this started when I kept up with the Play-by-Play of Hurricane Juliette's 2001 Landfall on the Lower Baja Peninsula. At the BajaNomads website, one member near Todo Santos, Baja BCS was posting every half hour to the Nomads Forum, using a Honda Generator and Satellite Internet. Man that was some gripping stuff, Bajabus kept it up for a day or two, as Juliette sat off Todos Santos and strengthened before coming ashore and hammering Bajabus' Casa. I looked at the Nomads today, to see if those heady threads were archived, but a cursory search didn't find them.

These are "Live Threads" and everyone down below is checking in with their observations early and often. After a while, when all the outliers check in, and you start to see the Big data from the meta-area of the event. Hurricanes are huge, and their influence is felt or seen over thousands of miles of the Earth. The Nomads have a widely dispersed community, many with many decades of Baja travel and living experience that adds to the richness or value of the observations and understanding of the events as they happen.

Not as dramatic as a big hurricane coming ashore, but no less a meta-event, are big Winter Storm Systems marching up the west Slope of the Sierra Nevada towards TruckeeDave's Mountain.

As the technology continues to roll out, more online weather sensors, webcams, and forecast tools will become available to track the storms' advance. Adding to the suspense on the Mountain is the lack of data tools in the Snowcats, save for the NWS VHF Weather Radio Stations. The Weather Radio isn't Real-Time though, it's a packaged product from the Weather Service, and runs an hour or so behind real time, save for the 3AM Observations. At home, I have twice the real-time data today as I did only five years ago. I can't wait until I have a WiFi handheld device in my pocket, that will put a lid on the suspense, but open the door to better real-time data to smooth my shift's planning and performance.

That's Remote Viewing I can get behind!

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