Saturday’s Weather — ‘The idiot bird’

March 26, 2011

While the northern California coastline continues its monotonous weather — Rain showers and isolated thunderstorms. Some thunderstorms may produce small hail — the US Upper Midwest is way-beyond the quiet isolated thunderstorm routine with a record-level snowpack.
Dr. Jeff Masters has a most-excellent post at Wunderblog on the situation: National Weather Service models show this year’s snowpack contains a water content ranked among the highest of the last 60 years, which is similar to the past two years.

(Illustration found here via Google Images).

Here it is Saturday morning and outside right now it’s near-beautiful.
Just back from a cigarette break and the skies are sunny and blue, tingled with clouds and a bit warm compared to the last few weeks — one characteristic of the weather up here this year (beyond more wet and more cold) is the close-to-gorgeous gaps, or holes, in these storms.
For a few minutes the environment is serenely beautiful, near-quiet and really nice.
But alas the dark approaches, and even as I tap, tap the keyboard, the windows are starting to shade, foreboding the approaching far edge of the storm-hole, indicating rain will soon be pounding on us again. (I can already hear the wind re-start its whining, whistle sound effect).
And it’s been pounding this winter for a long, long time, it seems and the ground here is fairly saturated — after the latest nasty storm front moved through last Thursday, the Eel River, its mouth just south along the coast, appeared near flood stage, but apparently the moisture in this particular system wasn’t enough as the Eel never peaked.
The storm caused about 2,500 homes and businesses to lose power for awhile, according to Pacific Gas and Electric, including the liquor store where I work — a problem on a power pole behind the store knocked us and a couple of other stores in the shopping center off the air — and the incident played havoc with the store’s ancient computers, and we were closed for the first three hours of business on Thursday.
Increasing the dramatic human tragedy, local PG&E spokeswoman Brandi Ehlers: “Mother Nature packs a powerful punch, and she’s hitting us hard this week,” Ehlers said.

Of course, Brandi, we all know our bad shit is way-relative to other peoples’ bad shit.

In that before-mentioned US Mid West, the water is thick everywhere.
From the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune comes report the Mississippi River is approaching what forecasters call a “major flood stage,” expected to arrive by Wednesday.
And with the snow-pack and the rain, forecasters say there’s a 20 percent chance of suffering at least one top-five flood starting next month — the situation already dire enough to flood riverbanks and even put a crimp to a melody:

The Frank Theatre company has canceled its Sunday afternoon performance of “Cabaret” on the Centennial Showboat, moored at Harriet Island in St. Paul.
Harriet Island is projected to be nearly underwater by 11 a.m. Sunday.
Wendy Knox, Frank Theatre’s artistic director, said the show has been selling well.
“Having to cancel Sunday is just heartbreaking,” she said.

Life might just be a cabaret, old chum, but drowning plays out a little differently.

In the US northeast, however, the situation is near-reversed to the St. Paul region.
From HuffPost:

Of course, scientists have already documented the effects of climate change in the Northeast.
Since 1970, the region has warmed by about two degrees Fahrenheit, and winter temperatures have increased even more.
One study found that, using a fifty-year data set, almost all weather stations in Maine had already reported a decrease in the winter snowpack.
Projecting into the future, the same study estimated that winter temperatures in the Northeast could warm, on average, about 6.5°F this century (using the same A2 scenario), and that the first frost in autumn will come 20 days later.

Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.
Peoples do try, though.
And of the weather, or even the lack of it, as in the middle of Texas, where there’s been a big tear in the normal fabric of life, resulting to a big shift in population.
A portent of a future of cheeky environment situations.
From Climate Progress:

One of the major reasons that there’s such a radical population shift is that central Texas is changing from arid grassland to uninhabitable desert, in part due to greenhouse pollution from the fossil fuels once buried under the ground.
Other unsustainable practices, such as overpumping of groundwater, unregulated sprawl, and poor conservation practices are accelerating the desertification.
The region has been in a drought since 1995-1996, with brief respites in 2007 and 2010 from catastrophic, flooding rains…

No weather is a bitch just like too-damn-much weather.
And the process ongoing in Texas, desertification, allows one of those strange, contradictory-seeming lapses about global warming/climate change — to me, a way-non-scientific person, a desert is a place absent of obvious weather, and climate change, to me, is what’s happening to the entire freakin’ planet while weather is how this climate change affects/effects my little, dingy part of that planet.
Weather has shifted for most US peoples from a near benign, natural part of life, to a much-more complicated, irritating and dangerous animal.

A good post popped up today at Skeptical Science, aptly titled, “Weather vs Climate.”
The core bit:

A change in temperature of 7 degrees Celsius (°C) from one day to the next is barely worth noting when you are discussing weather.
Seven degrees, however, make a dramatic difference when talking about climate.
When the Earth’s average temperature was 7ºC cooler than the present, ice sheets a mile thick were on top of Manhattan!
A good analogy of the difference between weather and climate is to consider a swimming pool.
Imagine that the pool is being slowly filled.
If someone dives in there will be waves.
The waves are weather, and the average water level is the climate.
A diver jumping into the pool the next day will create more waves, but the water level (aka the climate) will be higher as more water flows into the pool.
In the atmosphere the water hose is increasing greenhouse gases.
They will cause the climate to warm but we will still have changing weather (waves).
Climate scientists use models to forecast the average water level in the pool, not the waves.
A good basic explanation of climate models is available in Climate Change–A Multidisciplinary Approach by William Burroughs.

Hence, climate temperature change has a great affect/effect on the weather of Manhattan, for instance.
On the north California coast, the weather forecasts for this winter has been for more wetness and more coldness — hence some recent weird, and unsettling hail storms.
Last month, I watched the SafeWay parking lot turn quickly into a scene straight out of New Hampshire in deep winter, except instead of snow, the dense white was hail — the entire storm lasting only a matter of minutes, ending as if turned off by a faucet.

I’ve worked on this post on-and-off during the day, and now it’s near 7 p.m. here and it’s stopped raining again, but no sun, but just thick, gray-dark clouds.
Earlier this morning, I performed my usual surfing the Internets for new news, updates on the current smorgasbord of on-going events — from Japan to Libya — and those odd, little noddles of informational subjects/stories that seemingly portray this unique, exciting and most-interesting time in human history.

And without knowing how I arrived there, maybe going links-to-links, word-to-word, or something, I came across this: ‘Doomsday,’ by Sylvia Plath.

The idiot bird leaps out and drunken leans
Atop the broken universal clock:
The hour is crowed in lunatic thirteens.
Out painted stages fall apart by scenes
While all the actors halt in mortal shock:
The idiot bird leaps out and drunken leans.

Streets crack through in havoc-split ravines
As the doomstruck city crumbles block by block:
The hour is crowed in lunatic thirteens.

Fractured glass flies down in smithereens;
Our lucky relics have been put in hock: The idiot bird leaps out and drunken leans.

The monkey’s wrench has blasted all machines;
We never thought to hear the holy cock:
The hour is crowed in lunatic thirteens.

Too late to ask if end was worth the means,
Too late to calculate the toppling stock:
The idiot bird leaps out and drunken leans,
The hour is crowed in lunatic thirteens.

Sylvia Plath was a sad character, as most poets seem to be, but more sadder than most — she committed suicide at age 30 — and as in true and good talent with true and good poetry, there’s also an essence of insight. In 1982, she became the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously.

And if you go out tonight, don’t forget your rubbers!

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