I’m still here!

OK — I’m not going to let this blog die. I really enjoy doing it. Grad school and a forthcoming addition to our family have kept me away from writing posts. The weather season should start picking up, so I will have some fresh, fast fodder for the blog fire.

In the meantime, keep your eyes to the skies, peeps!

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For the love of North Dakota

This has nothing to do with weather, but everything to do with my love for North Dakota. Two ambitious gentlemen from Fargo, Try and “Rat,” have taken it upon themselves to digitally document the “ghosts” of North Dakota — the places fading from the map, fading from memory.

I have spent hours upon hours browsing their website, www.ghostsofnorthdakota.com, and I invite you to do the same. One of my favorites, the San Haven Sanatorium, which has since been torn down, and the Kincaid Power Plant. I invite you to take the time to browse the comments. Unlike most website comment streams that seem to attract trolls, these ones attract former residents of these ghost towns and their family members. Memories are being shared, relatives are reconnecting. It’s remarkable.

Troy and Rat are taking their project one step further and embarking on a photo book. It’s an expensive proposition, so they’ve started a Kickstarter project. It’s a cause a believe in, for the love of my home state, and it’s one I’m personally backing. Will you? Please consider it. Kickstarter funding is all or nothing; they’re running out of time, and they’re not quite there yet.

Watch their video that details their Kickstarter project. And track their progress (see the widget below the video).

Godspeed, Troy & Rat. I’m with you on this.

Track their progress:

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Join the Scary Looking Cloud Club

Logo credit: Tracy Kapela

This has got to be one of the best ideas I’ve seen in weather spotting. And it has an awesome name. The Scary Looking Cloud Club.

We’ve all been there. You’re watching some odd poof on the edge of a stormy sky, hanging low, maybe scooting along pretty quickly. Is it …? Could it be …? Na. Well, maybe… . I had better run, just in case. And, oh yeah, call in a funnel cloud report to the proper authorities.

Or should I? This is where the Scary Looking Cloud Club comes in.

This funny-sounding club (which is more of a loose affiliation, or discussion board), really has a serious purpose – or three, as stated on their website:

  1. Explain and show what scary-looking clouds are and the response they trigger from people.
  2. Reduce the number of false tornado and/or false funnel cloud reports relayed to County 911 Communication Centers and/or the National Weather Service.
  3. Have fun educating people.

A generous warning coordination meteorologist in Milwaukee is the driver behind this slice of education, served with a side of humor.

It goes a little something like this. You see an ugly cloud. You panic. You run. You pause briefly to take a photo (or at least that’s what I would do). After you’ve come out of your bomb shelter, you email it to the meteorologist, and he shares it with others. Take this example from Wisconsin:

This is not a tornado. It’s likely “scud,” which according to the National Weather Service is “Small, ragged, low cloud fragments that are unattached to a larger cloud base and often seen with and behind cold fronts and thunderstorm gust fronts. Such clouds generally are associated with cool moist air, such as thunderstorm outflow.”

Ugly, but harmless.

The club’s photo gallery is fun to browse. The key to remember is this: NONE of the scary-looking clouds in the gallery are tornadoes. They’re all just good examples of doppelgangers.

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Quick weather update August 24, 2012 at 05:53PM

@TracieLee Bis is OK for now. Big red spot forming in southern Morton that might come that way. These things are popping up fast. … Posted from Erin’s Twitter feed, @erin_rae

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Quick weather update August 24, 2012 at 05:26PM

Severe t-storm watch for all of central ND including Mercer, Oliver, Burleigh, Morton, Ward until 1 am CT. I’m on top of this today! … Posted from Erin’s Twitter feed, @erin_rae

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Quick weather update August 24, 2012 at 04:40PM

Severe thunderstorm warning for Hazen and Stanton. These have fired up quickly & have inch hail already. … Posted from Erin’s Twitter feed, @erin_rae

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Quick weather update August 24, 2012 at 04:40PM

Severe thunderstorm warning for Hazen and Stanton. These have fired up quickly & have inch hail already. … Posted from Erin’s Twitter feed, @erin_rae

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Weather radar is for the birds

If there’s anything else on this planet that tickles my fancy as much as weather, it’s birds. Birds in general just make me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Image captured by our friends at the National Weather Service on August 13, 2012.

So imagine my delight when I found this little update posted by the National Weather Service’s Bismarck office. The radar picked up flocks of birds as they left their overnight resting spots.

Here are a few slides put together by a Bismarck meteorologist that describe the phenomenon in more detail (more so than my general COOL! statement).

Birds on the Move.

Thank you to Bismarck’s NWS office for sharing this neat bit of avian/weather trivia with the geeky masses. We appreciate it!

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What’s a watch? What’s a warning?

It’s summer time. You hear about severe weather watches and warnings. They both start with “W,” so what’s the difference. Watch this video posted by our friends at NOAA to learn the difference.

And now for today’s forecast (It’s my new toy from WordPress, so bear with me.)

Weather for rural Oliver County, ND
Today Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
It is forcast to be Chance of a Thunderstorm at 10:00 PM CDT on July 23, 2014
Chance of a Thunderstorm
82°/63°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on July 24, 2014
Partly Cloudy
86°/66°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on July 25, 2014
Partly Cloudy
79°/57°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on July 26, 2014
Partly Cloudy
73°/52°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on July 27, 2014
Partly Cloudy
72°/46°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on July 28, 2014
Partly Cloudy
75°/52°

 

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Epic #raindatafail

My Vantage Vue integrated sensor suite in my back yard the winter of 2011.

I’m a writer by trade, so I’m used to my mistakes being plastered all over the place, usually in non-fixable media like magazines, brochures, posters, etc. I’m pretty seasoned at screwing up and letting the world know. For this reason I have no shame in telling you that some of my weather data is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I screwed up.

I’ve cleared my rain data log probably three times this year before I figured out what I was doing. Whoops. So don’t trust my rain data for probably the next calendar year. Let’s start over on January 1, OK?

Here’s what happened, lest another personal weather station operator repeat my mistake. My weather station downloads data to my computer about twice a day, and uploads data to the Citizen Weather Observer Program  network about every five minutes. My WeatherLink software is running in the background constantly. The downloads were taking longer and longer as they accumulated more and more data. I got impatient with the downloads and cleared my logs, thinking maybe … well … I’m not sure what I was thinking. In retrospect it should’ve been logical that my historical data would be hosed up. But the brat in me who demands instant gratification just wanted faster downloads.

The other thing I did, is that I haven’t replaced the batteries in the console in my house yet. I took the things out because they leaked, and again, being impatient — or maybe lazy — I didn’t replace them. I don’t want to publicly flog our electric cooperative (because I love them), but our lights flicker up to a couple times a week, and more often if the weather’s bad. So, in the midst of a rainstorm where I want to monitor from my office what’s happening at home, the rain total goes to zero. Guess what? The power went out.

Epic #raindatafail.

Or, more fitting, epic #erinfail.

Oh well. Let’s start with a fresh foot forward. I won’t clear my data logs anymore. And I’ll replace those batteries … just not right now. I’m busy.

Weather for rural Oliver County, ND
Today Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
It is forcast to be Chance of a Thunderstorm at 10:00 PM CDT on July 23, 2014
Chance of a Thunderstorm
82°/63°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on July 24, 2014
Partly Cloudy
86°/66°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on July 25, 2014
Partly Cloudy
79°/57°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on July 26, 2014
Partly Cloudy
73°/52°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on July 27, 2014
Partly Cloudy
72°/46°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM CDT on July 28, 2014
Partly Cloudy
75°/52°
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