kottke.org posts about weather

Realtime map of lightning strikesJun 23 2014

This map showing where lighting strikes are happening right now is kind of great:

Lightning Map

Average delay is about 3-5 seconds. Make sure you turn the sound up too. That's the North American map...there are also maps for Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America, although only NA, Europe, and Australia seem to have detectors in place.

The detection system is volunteer community effort. Anyone who wants to can buy a detection kit (for around 200 Euro) and hook it up to the Internet to provide strike data. In turn, the data collected from stations is made available to any station owner. See also the wind map of the Earth and the realtime map of global ocean currents.

Female hurricanes deadlier than male hurricanes?Jun 03 2014

According to a new study, hurricanes with female names kill more people because Americans are less fearful of storms named after women:

The stereotypes that underlie these judgments are subtle and not necessarily hostile toward women -- they may involve viewing women as warmer and less aggressive than men.

Then again, maybe this study blows... (If your first name is Hurricane, I don't even care what your last name is.)

Other aspects of the team's analysis didn't make sense to Lazo. For example, they included indirect deaths in their fatality counts, which includes people who, say, are killed by fallen electrical lines in the clean-up after a storm. "How would gender name influence that sort of fatality?" he asks. He also notes that the damage a hurricane inflicts depends on things like how buildings are constructed, and other actions that we take long before a hurricane is named, or even before it forms.

Thunderstorm supercellsMay 30 2014

From Stephen Locke, a time lapse video of thunderstorm supercells forming near Climax, Kansas.

Jiminy, that's breathtaking. I didn't know there was so much rotation involved in thunderstorms...the entire cloud structure is rotating. (via bad astronomy)

Climate change? More like climate changed.May 08 2014

According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change has already affected the US in significant ways. This map from the NY Times shows the change in temperatures from around the country, specifically the "1991-2012 average temperature compared with 1901-1960 average".

Climate change US temps

Among the report's findings? As I've noted before, weather is getting weirder and more bursty, not just hotter.

One of the report's most striking findings concerned the rising frequency of torrential rains. Scientists have expected this effect for decades because more water is evaporating from a warming ocean surface, and the warmer atmosphere is able to hold the excess vapor, which then falls as rain or snow. But even the leading experts have been surprised by the scope of the change.

The report found that the eastern half of the country is receiving more precipitation in general. And over the past half-century, the proportion of precipitation that is falling in very heavy rain events has jumped by 71 percent in the Northeast, by 37 percent in the Midwest and by 27 percent in the South, the report found.

Nonlinear systems, man.

NYC snowboardingFeb 14 2014

This is fucking great and crazy...when the snow hit NYC yesterday, Casey Neistat grabbed his snowboard and went snowboarding behind a Jeep in the East Village.

StormscapesFeb 12 2014

Nicolaus Wegner shot some gorgeous footage of thunderstorms and cloud formations in South Dakota and Wyoming during the summer of 2013.

(via devour)

The weight of rainFeb 10 2014

In a presentation for the Visualized conference, Jonathan Corum says that he looks for the "weight of rain" when working on data graphics.

So when I'm looking at data, or working on an explanatory graphic, these are the moments I'm looking for. Little "Aha!" moments that I can point to, and say "Look here, something happened," and then try to explain. Often those small moments can help lead a reader into the graphic, or help to explain the whole.

The actual non-metaphorical weight of rain is surprisingly heavy; an inch of rain on an acre of land weighs 113.31 tons.

The weather outside is frightfulJan 29 2014

Atlanta Snow

It sounds odd that a city would be digging out from a few inches of snow. But Atlanta residents were faced with a whole lot of chaos (and even more traffic) when they were hit with some unusually white weather.

We're talking about kids spending the night their schools, commutes a few miles that took more than ten hours, helicopters searching for stranded drivers, and a call to the National Guard for help.

From InFocus, here's a collection of photos that will give you a good idea of what happens when snowstorm hits a population not accustomed to that kind of weather.

Talking about the weather used to be a euphemism for talking about nothing. Now it can mean talking about everything.

Update: This is the best post I read about the snowfall in the South.

But if you're making light of the situation, or more realistically using it to reinforce your view of the South and the people in it as full of backwards blubberers, you are an asshole. It's hard to remember sometimes, but things are different in places you do not personally live.

When it snows where you live, the salt and the snowplows are out on the streets before you even wake up. When you talk about six inches of snow in your city, you are almost definitely talking about six inches of snow on the median strip and shoulder, and highways that are slick, but clear. I'd take that over two inches of snow and ice on every major road any day.

When it snows where you live, it is the latest in a string of snowfalls that date back centuries. You own a car with four-wheel-drive for that very purpose. You may even own snow tires. This is great! You are prepared. But waking up in Birmingham to snow is like waking up in New Hampshire to quicksand.

Wind map of the EarthDec 17 2013

Wind Map Earth

You've probably seen the cool wind map of the US, but there's one for the whole Earth now. (via df)

Big Thanksgiving storm brewing on the east coast?Nov 22 2013

The internet's resident meteorologist Eric Holthaus (who incidentally has given up flying because of climate change) warns that a major storm could be on its way to the East Coast in time for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (which overlap this year and then not again until the year 79811).

Technically, the storm is a nor'easter but is looking more like a tropical storm in the computer models:

At this point, the most likely scenario would be cold, wind-driven rain in the big coastal US cities, with up to a foot of snow stretching from inland New England as far south as the Carolinas. The cold would stick around after the storm exits, with high temperatures in the 20s and wind chills possibly in the single digits as far south as New Jersey on Black Friday.

According to this afternoon's iteration of the Euro model (a meteorological model that famously predicted superstorm Sandy's rare left hook into New Jersey six days out), at the storm's peak, wind gusts on Cape Cod could approach hurricane force.

We're still a ways out, so things might change, but travel safely next week, folks. (via @marcprecipice)

New weather site: ForecastMar 26 2013

From the team that brought you Dark Sky, an app that has saved (or at least kept dry) my bacon more times than I can count, comes Forecast, a weather web site that incorporates several of the features that made Dark Sky great. From the announcement:

Rather than cram these things into Dark Sky, we decided to do something grander: create our own full-featured weather service from scratch, complete with 7-day forecasts that cover the whole world, beautiful weather visualizations, and a time machine for exploring the weather in the past and far future. You can access it from all of your devices, whether it be your laptop, iPhone, Android phone, or tablet.

On top of all that, we're providing this data to other developers, in the hopes that a truly independent weather community can thrive in the era of increasing corporate consolidation.

The chemistry of snowflakes Feb 19 2013

With the northeast still smarting from their two+ feet of snow, it's worth watching this two minute video to see how those trillions of flakes were born.

For more, this recent 16 minute Radiolab segment looks into whether perfect snowflakes exist.

Essential winter storm reportFeb 08 2013

There's a blizzard bearing down on the northeastern United States and here's some essential information you need to know if you live in an affected area:

But seriously, you should follow @EricHolthaus for the latest storm info. (Ok, so we have our first celebrity Twitter weatherman. Weather and climate are going to become a lot more important in American pop culture...at what point do Gawker or Buzzfeed launch their climate verticals?)

Our weird weather realityJan 11 2013

As previously reported, global warming doesn't just mean the Earth is getting warmer...the weather is getting weirder.

Britons may remember 2012 as the year the weather spun off its rails in a chaotic concoction of drought, deluge and flooding, but the unpredictability of it all turns out to have been all too predictable: Around the world, extreme has become the new commonplace.

Especially lately. China is enduring its coldest winter in nearly 30 years. Brazil is in the grip of a dreadful heat spell. Eastern Russia is so freezing -- minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and counting -- that the traffic lights recently stopped working in the city of Yakutsk.

Bush fires are raging across Australia, fueled by a record-shattering heat wave. Pakistan was inundated by unexpected flooding in September. A vicious storm bringing rain, snow and floods just struck the Middle East. And in the United States, scientists confirmed this week what people could have figured out simply by going outside: last year was the hottest since records began.

BTW, this story was published the day before the NY Times announced that they are dismantling their environment news desk and dispersing the nine-person staff throughout the newsroom.

It wasn't a decision we made lightly," said Dean Baquet, the paper's managing editor for news operations. "To both me and Jill [Abramson, executive editor], coverage of the environment is what separates the New York Times from other papers. We devote a lot of resources to it, now more than ever. We have not lost any desire for environmental coverage. This is purely a structural matter."

This seems like a step in the wrong direction. Which prominent national publication will be brave and start pushing climate change coverage alongside that of politics, business, and sports? At the very least, the Times should have a weekly Climate Change section, the New Yorker should have a yearly Climate issue, Buzzfeed should have a Climate & Weather vertical, etc. (via @tcarmody)

NYC's weather weirdnessNov 29 2012

In 2006, New York magazine published a piece by Clive Thompson about what climate change is doing to New York's weather.

Nobody really knows what'll happen more than a week in advance, of course. But if we assemble these major climatic trends, a rough snapshot of New York's future begins to emerge.

First off, El Nino will keep our winters reasonably mild and reduce hurricanes in the immediate future, possibly until as late as 2008, because El Ninos usually last for only one or two years.

Meanwhile, the AMO will remain in its warm phase, charging up storms and hurricanes off our shores, for much longer, probably another twenty years. So while El Nino may be driving a temporary reprieve in our nasty weather, once it dissipates, the long-term trend is back to tumultuous hurricane seasons.

The final ingredient in the mix is global warming. In the past century, the average temperature in New York has risen by two degrees, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Indeed, the computer models reviewed in the "Metropolitan East Coast Climate Assessment" -- a 50-year prediction of New York's changing climate, developed by nasa and Columbia University -- suggest that the city will continue to heat up by as much as one degree by 2010, two degrees by 2020, and accelerate on a gentle curve until we reach as much as nine degrees warmer than now in 2100. It doesn't particularly matter whether you believe the warming is man-made or a natural cycle (most, but not all, climatologists believe the former). The point is, pumping that much extra energy into the system is bound to have some effect.

The impact on our daily life, though, is the big question. A few degrees of warming won't turn New York into a Miami-class shirtsleeves town. The effect will be more subtle: Climate scientists suspect that a warmer climate will produce more weather volatility. It's not that we'll have more rain overall, more snow overall, or more storms overall. But each event will be more intense than before.

"We're more likely to get hotter heat waves," says Mark Cane, a climatologist at Columbia University. "And increased storminess" adds Cullen. Both effects are due to the additional energy that global warming pumps into the "hydrological cycle," the water and energy that circulates through the atmosphere -- and it's water that creates weather.

As they say, "nailed it". The term "global warming" continues to be a misleading when it comes to the effect of the Earth's increasing temperature on our weather; as Thompson notes, it's not that it's just gonna get a little hotter in the summer or a little less snowy in the winter, the weather's gonna get weirder. Which is a problem...it's difficult for society to measure and talk about "weird".

Hurricane Sandy aftermath part twoOct 31 2012

Jason is still without power, but he and family are doing fine.

JFK and Newark are open, but jammed.

ConEd is saying Manhattanites without power will get it back within 3 days. Interactive map of the outages. Long Island could be longer. ConEd map here.

Some subway service should return Thursday, likely north of Midtown. Transit updates here.

With people returning to work, traffic is bad. As power returns, more people going back to work, could make the traffic worse.

NYTimes has a good summary of the storm damage along the East Coast.

AP photo of what's left of Breezy Point after the fire Monday night.

breezy-point-fire.jpg

Collection of Sandy photos from the Boston Globe.

Video of storm from birth to landfall.

Hurricane Sandy aftermathOct 30 2012

(Jason and family are fine, but without power, unsure of when it will come back. Aaron will be updating this throughout the day.)

Hurricane Sandy went through New York City yesterday causing massive flooding and power loss all over the city. While expectations for the storm had ranged across the spectrum, most observers seemed to be caught off guard at the amount of destruction. Here is the Kottke.org Hurricane Sandy link from yesterday and the one from the day before.

Updated Wed 12:15am ET:

22 deaths reported in New York City, 40 total in eight states combined. Several dozen more in Haiti and the Caribbean. This in the NYTimes, talks about two of NYC's fatalities.

Sunday's NYC Marathon will go on.

If you're still without power, it could be 4-5 days before it comes back. And it's not looking great for the subway, either.

Really old skeleton unearthed by fallen tree in New Haven.

David reminded us about how oysters might be able to help with future flooding (and did in the past).

I asked my friend Kevin for a few words on how a new New Yorker rode out the storm.

During the worst of the storm, around 9 p.m., I was huddled in my bed watching Homeland on my laptop, scanning Thought Catalog's surprisingly good Hurricane Sandy Liveblog, and checking Twitter, which was probably in the finest form I've seen it in a long time: a terrific balance of helpful updates, links, GIFs, and personal communication. Even misinformation, which spreads like wildfire via retweet, was quickly debunked, like CNN's report that the NYSE was under three feet of water. My one disappointment was Twitter's fake satirical accounts, which were mostly uninspired, with the bold exceptions of @ElBloombito and @RomneyStormTips (which was mysteriously shut down).

Finally, a rainbow by Noah Kalina.

noah-kalina-rainbow.jpg

Updated Tues 5:15pm ET:

This might be a dark cloud for many New Yorkers still digging out. Disney has purchased Lucasfilm and plans to release a new Star Wars feature film every 2-3 years. Star Wars 7 comes out in 2015. This information is being delivered to Jason by land line telephone, like in the old days.

A list of open New York City restaurants.

Sea level will be at Sandy levels normally by 2200.

Phenomenal illustration of the effect of last night's power outage on the NYC skyline.

I've not been able to find much information about the impact the storm damage in NJ, NYC, CT, and DE will have on the election. Not on the politics of it, which have been interesting, but will people actually be able to vote? I just heard a radio report on All Things Considered that officials in NJ and CT, at least, are assessing the issue now and considering all options such as loosening absentee ballot rules, paper ballots, generators in voting locations, etc. While states have the responsibility of managing the elections, the date of the election is mandated by the Constitution as "the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November." It's unclear whether states have the power to move this date, but preventing citizens from having to vote after most of the votes in the country have been cast is the priority at this point.

A fantastic infographic of storm info/damage from NYTimes.

Updated Tues 2:00pm ET:

Up here in Boston, things seem to be OK. My neighborhood experienced high winds and whipping rain, but fairly low damage. My street, which floods once or twice a year in heavy rain, was fine. There are reports of branches and trees downing power lines around Cambridge, Somerville, Boston, etc, but most friends that lost power got it back after a relatively short period.

New York death toll updated to 15, 10 in the city.

Buses should be up and running by 5PM, on a Sunday schedule, and will be free today and tomorrow.

All of Jersey City and Newark are without power.

New York City specific 'how to help' link.

NBC's Brian Thompson got a pic of the roller coaster at Seaside Heights in New Jersey in the ocean. (via theatlanticwire)

Roller-coaster.jpg

AP photo of cabs underwater in Hoboken. (via theatlanticwire)

Cabs-under-water.jpg

Tappan Zee Bridge, East River Bridges, RFK Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel open
.

JFK should open tomorrow. Laguardia has runways underwater and may take a little longer.

Matt Stopera is walking around providing pretty remarkable photos of other damage in his Twitter stream. Like this one, this one, and this one.

I can't believe these 'boats on shore pictures'. 1. 2.

Watch this transformer explode in Queens.

As of now, there are 9 reported storm-related fatalities in New York. Across the East Coast, the number is reported to be 14 total.

Mayor Bloomberg spoke earlier this morning to update the city. "This was a devastating storm. Maybe the worst that we have ever experienced." (This video seems wonky, you might have to scroll forward to get it started.)

All of the MTA tunnels under the rivers flooded, and, "There is currently no timetable" for when the subway will be up and running again.

As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water. We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery. Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.

MTA's photo stream shows damage in the stations.

The back up generator at NYU Hospital failed last night forcing hospital staff, firefighters, and EMTs to carry patients down flights of stairs as they were evacuated to other hospitals.

There was an enormous 6 alarm fire in the Breezy Point area of Queens, destroying at least 50 homes. 200 firefighters fought chest-high water to battle the fire and rescue residents. An image of the destruction.

Along with hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, Gizmodo, Gawker, Daily Kos, and Buzzfeed were among many websites which went down after their data-centers in lower Manhattan lost power.

Letterman and Fallon did their shows without audiences last night.

Crazy video of a ConEd plant exploding on E14 and FDR.

Video of flooding at East 8th and Avenue C, especially spooky because the power suddenly goes out at the :40 second mark. (via Gawker)

Almost 6,000 flights were canceled today.

Hurricane Sandy is (almost) hereOct 29 2012

It's about 1:30 pm here in NYC and we're starting to see the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Rivers are overflowing their banks, wind is whipping, and residents are either hunkered down or scurrying around picking up last minute supplies. I'll be updating this post when I can, here and there, during the course of the day.

Updated Mon 7:42pm ET:

Kids are way worse than the hurricane today. FEMA, NYPD, FDNY, need emergency parental evac now!

What to Expect at Landfall in Next Two Hours (WSJ):

The storm's quicker-than-expected forward motion means it will make landfall about two hours sooner than previously anticipated. Landfall is now expected around 6 p.m. this evening, near or just south of Atlantic City, N.J. This doesn't change the forecast much for coastal New Jersey, but it could greatly complicate coastal flooding projections for New York Harbor.

Whoa, it looks like the situation in the Brooklyn subway is getting dire:

Flooded Subway

Twitter has compiled a list of hurricane resources on Twitter.

Here's a close-up photo of that crane that's dangling from that building on 57th Street. CBS has a live view of the crane.

Not from The Onion, but this report on how Williamsburg residents are coping with the storm sure reads like it:

"I just got these kick-ass new stereo speakers and I am going to listen to those until the power runs out," Jim Butler, another Edge resident, said, tugging on the doors of the CVS that is part of the complex-it had just closed a few minutes before 5 p.m. "Then I'm going to read and look at my art books. I'll live by candlelight, get in touch with my 19th century self."

From just now on the TV: Con Ed has taken down the Bowling Green and Fulton electrical networks in lower Manhattan. Likely area hit is "east of Broadway btwn Wall St & tip of Manhattan & from Frankfort to Wall btwn William St & East river."

Water level at the Battery has hit 11.25 ft, breaking a record set in 1821.

Updated Mon 4:08pm ET:

Tweet from Jen Bekman:

[Con Ed] rep on NY1 sayspower shutdown "very likely" south of 34th st. 7-9pm for high tide.

Some common sense tips: how to make your cell phone charge last if the power goes out.

Walked by Joseph Leonard on Waverly Place here in the West Village earlier and it was jam packed.

Want to look at a bunch of good photos of the hurricane? Alan Taylor at In Focus has you covered.

Great story of how Dan Rather hacked up the first radar image of a hurricane shown on TV for Hurricane Carla in 1961.

He took a camera crew to the U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) office in downtown Galveston, which featured a cutting-edge WSR-57 radar console. He convinced the bureau staff to let him broadcast, live, from the office. He asked a Weather Bureau meteorologist to draw him a rough outline of the Gulf of Mexico on a transparent sheet of plastic; during the broadcast, he held that drawing over the computer's black-and-white radar display to give his audience a sense both of Carla's size and of the location of the storm's eye. As CBS plugged into the broadcast, that audience suddenly became a national one.

Tappan Zee Bridge closed as of 4pm. And all bridges/tunnels in and out of Manhattan are closing at 7pm...or so I've heard on TV/Twitter. Is that right? Has anyone seen the Batman?

Things aren't looking good on Nantucket. And probably not even close to max storm surge.

Updated Mon 3:47pm ET:

There are reports of a crane collapse at One World Trade but Jake Dobkin doesn't see any evidence of that. (Update: Jake was right...no crane issue at 1WTC.)

Updated Mon 3:11pm ET:

More footage of the 1938 hurricane that hit the northeastern US.

Updated Mon 3:07pm ET:

Is TV news and Twitter whipping everyone into a hurricane-like froth with its incessant coverage of Sandy? Well, E.B. White has similar complaints about radio and Hurricane Edna back in 1954.

The radio either lets Nature alone or gives her the full treatment, as it did at the approach of the hurricane called Edna. The idea, of course, is that the radio shall perform a public service by warning people of a storm that might prove fatal; and this the radio certainly does. But another effect of the radio is to work people up to an incredible state of alarm many hours in advance of the blow, while they are still fanned by the mildest zephyrs.

That awesome photo you saw of Hurricane Sandy? It might not be Hurricane Sandy.

Vintage newsreel footage of hurricanes in 1938, 1955, and 1969.

Piers Morgan spotted a crane that has buckled on a building near CNN HQ in NYC (157 West 57th):

Crane in hurricane

Massive bang and this giant skyscraper crane outside my office just buckled... Scary.

Updated Mon 2:19pm ET:

Lots of people have noted this feed of hurricane-related photos on Instagram.

NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg urges residents to "Have a sandwich out of the fridge. Sit back, and watch the television." I am so there, Mr. Mayor.

The lower level of FDR Drive on the east side of Manhattan is underwater:

FDR flood

The storm surge in New York Harbor is getting serious.

Con Ed just called us saying that they might have to shut off our power. No timeline mentioned.

Climate change has not been an issue at all in the 2012 Presidential election. Elizabeth Kolbert says that's "grotesque".

BTW, Mitt Romney wants to shut down FEMA and have the states fend for themselves. United(?) States of America?

Earlier:

This WSJ comparison of 2011's Hurricane Irene and Sandy really captures just how massive this storm is and why people seem more concerned about it than they were with Irene.

Via Jeff Masters, Sandy is already producing record storm surges:

The National Weather Service in Atlantic City, NJ said that isolated record storm surge flooding already occurred along portions of the New Jersey coast with this morning's 7:30 am EDT high tide cycle. As the tide goes out late this morning and this afternoon, water levels will fall, since the difference in water levels between low tide and high tide is about 5'. However, this evening, as the core of Sandy moves ashore, the storm will carry with it a gigantic bulge of water that will raise waters levels to the highest storm tides ever seen in over a century of record keeping, along much of the coastline of New Jersey and New York. The peak danger will be between 7 pm - 10 pm, when storm surge rides in on top of the high tide. The full moon is today, which means astronomical high tide will be about 5% higher than the average high tide for the month, adding another 2 - 3" to water levels.

The Holland Tunnel and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel will be closing at 2pm today.

The swans are leaving Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn:

Swan Hurricane Evac

Here's a satellite view of Sandy developing near the equator and building in strength as it churns through the Caribbean and up the Atlantic coast:

Here's my post from yesterday with all sorts of hurricane resources, including Jeff Master's WunderBlog, the Wind Map, and check out your flood zone in NYC.

Hurricane Sandy comin'Oct 28 2012

I don't know how much I'm going to be updating this, but here's a few things about the hurricane that's bearing down on the East Coast right now. Mostly NYC centric.

Updated Sun 11:52pm ET:

The main hall of the closed Grand Central Terminal, deserted. Even stranger, the busiest subway station in NYC (Times Square), closed and deserted.

Times Square Closed

The Wind Map will likely be interesting over the next 36-48 hours. (via @panicstreak)

From Jeff Masters' WunderBlog, a more technical view of the storm:

The National Weather Service in Upton, New York mentioned today that the predicted maximum water level of 11.7 feet at The Battery in New York City, which is expected to occur at 8:13pm ET on Monday, would break the record of 10.5 feet which was set on September 15, 1960 in Hurricane Donna.

The storm's barometric pressure is going to be historically low:

Sandy should have sustained winds at hurricane force, 75 - 80 mph, at landfall. Sandy's central pressure is expected to drop from its current 953 mb to 945 - 950 mb at landfall Monday night. A pressure this low is extremely rare; according to wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt, the lowest pressure ever measured anywhere in the U.S. north of Cape Hatteras, NC, is 946 mb (27.94") measured at the Bellport Coast Guard Station on Long Island, NY on September 21, 1938 during the great "Long Island Express" hurricane.

Masters says that part of the NYC subway system may flood:

The full moon is on Monday, which means astronomical high tide will be about 5% higher than the average high tide for the month. This will add another 2 - 3" to water levels. Fortunately, Sandy is now predicted to make a fairly rapid approach to the coast, meaning that the peak storm surge will not affect the coast for multiple high tide cycles. Sandy's storm surge will be capable of overtopping the flood walls in Manhattan, which are only five feet above mean sea level. On August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene brought a storm surge of 4.13' and a storm tide of 9.5' above MLLW to Battery Park on the south side of Manhattan. The waters poured over the flood walls into Lower Manhattan, but came 8 - 12" shy of being able to flood the New York City subway system. According to the latest storm surge forecast for NYC from NHC, Sandy's storm surge is expected to be at least a foot higher than Irene's. If the peak surge arrives near Monday evening's high tide at 9 pm EDT, a portion of New York City's subway system could flood, resulting in billions of dollars in damage. I give a 50% chance that Sandy's storm surge will end up flooding a portion of the New York City subway system.

But Linsey Lohan urges you not to panic:

WHY is everyone in SUCH a panic about hurricane (i'm calling it Sally)..? Stop projecting negativity! Think positive and pray for peace.

US financial markets were supposed to be open tomorrow but officials now have closed the markets on Monday.

Updated Sun 8:54pm ET:

The Day After Tomorrow, a movie directed by Roland Emmerich in which a super storm hits Manhattan, is available for streaming ($2.99) or to buy ($9.99) on Amazon Instant Video and on iTunes for sale ($12.99).

John Seabrook notes on Twitter:

Full moon at 7.50pm tomorrow, ten minutes before the high point of storm surge. Seems kind of biblical...

Or Mayan. 2012, y'all.

Justin reminds me of a classic New Yorker piece by Joe Morgenstern about a NYC skyscraper that was unprepared for hurricane-force winds.

On a warm June day in 1978, William J. LeMessurier, one of the nation's leading structural engineers, received a phone call at his headquarters, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from an engineering student in New Jersey. The young man, whose name has been lost in the swirl of subsequent events, said that his professor had assigned him to write a paper on the Citicorp tower, the slash-topped silver skyscraper that had become, on its completion in Manhattan the year before, the seventh-tallest building in the world.

LeMessurier found the subject hard to resist, even though the call caught him in the middle of a meeting. As a structural consultant to the architect Hugh Stubbins, Jr., he had designed the twenty-five-thousand-ton steel skeleton beneath the tower's sleek aluminum skin. And, in a field where architects usually get all the credit, the engineer, then fifty-two, had won his own share of praise for the tower's technical elegance and singular grace; indeed, earlier that year he had been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor his profession bestows. Excusing himself from the meeting, LeMessurier asked his caller how he could help.

The student wondered about the columns--there are four--that held the building up. According to his professor, LeMessurier had put them in the wrong place.

"I was very nice to this young man," LeMessurier recalls. "But I said, 'Listen, I want you to tell your teacher that he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, because he doesn't know the problem that had to be solved.' I promised to call back after my meeting and explain the whole thing."

Updated Sun 8:22pm ET:

From the excellent coverage at WSJ:

Those living above the 10th floor in skyscrapers may want to find shelter in lower floors. Winds increase with height in a hurricane and could be significantly stronger than on ground level. Be cautious about sleeping near a window on Monday night. Do not walk outside on Monday evening, as there could be significant amounts of airborne debris flying around. Rain totals 4-8 inches.

Not a sight you see that often: Grand Central is closed.

Grand Central Closed

From Quartz, a list of webcams to watch as Sandy approaches.

Updated Sun 8:11pm ET:

BREAKING NEWS! [siren] Powerful Storm Brings Down NY Times Paywall: "The Times is providing free unlimited access to storm coverage on nytimes.com and its mobile apps."

From When There's a Flood: if you're preparing your house for a flood, shut off the water, propane, and electricity.

Just checked Uber in the West Village...about 10 cars less than three minutes away. Usually a lot less inventory than that.

Was rumored that MoMA would be open tomorrow with skeleton crew but word just now from their Twitter account: closed tomorrow.

From the NY Times:

If the surge runs as high as forecast, Con Ed will shut off two electrical networks in Lower Manhattan, known as the Fulton and Beekman networks, the official said.

I looked all over the place for a map that showed which parts of the city are served by the Fulton and Beekman but couldn't find anything. I'm assuming the Fulton station is near the World Trade Center and the Beekman is on Beekman St by Pace University. So way Lower Manhattan?

Earlier:

Subway, bus and railroad services in New York and New Jersey are being shut down starting at 7pm tonight. Probably won't be back open until sometime on Wednesday.

NYC schools are closed on Monday. And probably Tuesday. And if public transit is closed on Wed, schools with probably be closed that day too.

Taping your windows to protect them from hurricanes is "a waste of effort, time, and tape".

Residents in Zone A in NYC have been ordered to evacuate. Check out where your zone is here.

New York City's Hurricane brochure is available here.

The tracking map on Weather Underground gives you the opportunity to "share this storm". Weather.com lets you see "friends at risk." Uhh....

For storm updates in Spanish, be sure to follow Miguel Bloombito:

Did tu packo el vamos bag? No forgeto el casho, los medicatioño y tamponitos.

The WSJ has a great post comparing Sandy with Irene from last year. Sandy is much more potentially damaging in almost all respects.

On Saturday, Sandy became the largest storm in recorded Atlantic basin history, with a diameter of gale force winds of over 1000 miles. Tropical storm warnings were in place Saturday simultaneously for North Carolina and Bermuda, a sign of the storm's massive geographic sweep. Those winds will follow Sandy northward, potentially encompassing more than 50 million people at once from Virginia to New England.

Peter Kafka paraphrasing Bloomberg: "don't be stupid and it will be fine".

Satellite view of Sandy from 2:42 am last night. Massive. This thing is Day After Tomorrow big.

Zones, evacuation centers, webcams, and more on this Google Maps maps.

Chad Dickerson notes that the decentralization of NYC's stores is a plus:

the institution of the neighborhood corner store in NYC comes through for storm prep. decentralization ftw!

A Skrillex storm with "a single giant drop"Sep 21 2012

XKCD's What If? science feature continues to delight. This week's question is "What if a rainstorm dropped all of its water in a single giant drop?"

The drop is now falling at 90 meters per second (200 mph). The roaring wind whips up the surface of the water into spray. The leading edge of the droplet turns to foam as air is forced into the liquid. If it kept falling for long enough, these forces would gradually disperse the entire droplet into rain.

Before that can happen, about 20 seconds after formation, the edge of the droplet hits the ground. The water is now moving at over 200 m/s (450 mph). Right under the point of impact, the air is unable to rush out of the way fast enough, and the compression heats it so quickly that the grass would catch fire if it had time.

Fortunately for the grass, this heat lasts only a few milliseconds because it's doused by the arrival of a lot of cold water. Unfortunately for the grass, the cold water is moving at over half the speed of sound.

Camille Seaman's sky monsters and frozen seafarersJul 12 2012

Yesterday In Focus featured new work from photographer Camille Seaman: storm clouds in the skies of the Midwest.

Camille Seaman Storm

Nice cumulonimbus mammatus in #s 4, 14, and 16. And by coincidence, the NY Times Lens blog also featured Seaman's work yesterday, an earlier project that entailed shooting portraits of icebergs.

Camille Seaman Iceberg

I like Seaman's portraiture approach to things like clouds and icebergs:

"They are like humans in that each one reacts to its environment and its circumstances in its own way," Camille Seaman, 42, said. "I've come across icebergs that were very stalwart and just refused to dissolve or break up. And there were others -- massive, massive icebergs -- that were like 'I can't take it anymore' and in front of my eyes would just dissolve into the sea. There's so many unique personalities. There's a sadness to them."

2012, the year of heatJul 06 2012

If I could package a cool breeze into a newsletter, I'd do it. Because a lot of you are hot. How hot? In towns across the U.S., 942 temperature records have already been broken this month. In June, 3,282 temperature records were broken. And since the beginning of the year, 23,283 daily high records have been set. These two maps tell the pretty amazing story of the 2012, the year of the heat.

Thailand flood photosOct 31 2011

The worst floods in 50 years have hit Thailand Bangkok...the Big Picture has photos of the flooding in Bangkok while In Focus has a collection from all over Thailand.

Accurate short-term weather predictionOct 31 2011

Predicting the weather is really hard...butterfly wings flapping and all that. But often we only care about the very short term weather: Do I need to take an umbrella to the store? When's this rain gonna stop? Is it going to start snowing before I get home? Enter Dark Sky, an iOS app currently in development.

Dark Sky is an app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch that predicts the weather.

Using your precise location, it tells you when it will precipitate and for how long. For example: It might tell you that it will start raining in 8 minutes, with the rain lasting for 15 minutes followed by a 25 minute break.

How is it possible predict the weather down to the minute? What's the catch?

Well, the catch is that it only works over a short period of time: a half hour to an hour in the future. But, as it turns out, this timespan is crucially important. Our lives are filled with short-term outdoor activities: Travelling to and from work, walking the dog, lunch with friends, outdoor sports, etc.

DIY satellite imageryOct 31 2011

With a computer, some software, and a couple hundred dollars of hardware, you can pull down your own satellite images from satellites managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) manages a few satellites in low earth orbit. There are three actively transmitting APT signals at the moment, NOAA15, 17, and 18. Each of these satellites passes overhead a few times a day. I've been interested in learning how to receive their signals for a while now, and I've finally succeeded!

The weather wheelAug 21 2011

I've been staring at Edlundart's weather wheel for 10 minutes trying to understand exactly how to read it. It shows relative temperature, precipitation, and wind speed, and it's just gorgeous. Bonus points for including Boston.

The Weather Wheel is based on widely available weather data, but does not display the actual numbers. Things like millimeter precipitation readings are not very meaningful to most people, so thinking of and showing these metrics in a relative way instead seemed like a clean and elegant approach.

Timelapse cloudsJun 03 2011

A ten-minute video shows clouds forming and dissipating at timelapse speed. Quite relaxing.

Best viewed in fullscreen HD.

WeathersparkMar 15 2011

Weatherspark is an impressive collection of weather data, graphs, and tools.

WeatherSpark is a new type of weather website, with interactive weather graphs that allow you to pan and zoom through the entire history of any weather station on earth.

Get multiple forecasts for the current location, overlaid on records and averages to put it all in context.

Here's the weather for NYC. (via @bantic)

The American snow epidemicJan 12 2011

Before looking, see if you can guess the only US state currently without snow on the ground. The answer, from the NY Times:

With the arrival of snow in New York and the unusually severe storm in the South - which dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas -- the National Weather Service said an unusual nationwide occurrence had taken place. There was now snow on the ground in all 50 states - including Hawaii, where snow fell on a volcano -- except for Florida.

Blizzard timelapseDec 27 2010

A 20-hour span of blizzard in about 40 seconds. There are several points at which it seems the snow should stop accumulating on the table, but it never does.

Metrodome roof collapses because of too much snowDec 12 2010

And they caught it on film. Crazy:

Star Wars weatherNov 15 2010

What's the weather like on Dagobah, Alderaan, or Hoth? Find out with these handy OS X Dashboard widgets.

Hoth weather

Old WeatherOct 12 2010

Using journals kept aboard ships and the sweat of volunteers (that's *you*), Old Weather is attempting to compile a more accurate look at our planet's recent climate.

Help scientists recover worldwide weather observations made by Royal Navy ships around the time of World War I. These transcriptions will contribute to climate model projections and improve a database of weather extremes. Historians will use your work to track past ship movements and the stories of the people on board.

Dry weather reveals ruinsSep 01 2010

This summer's dry English weather has been unexpectantly good for archaeology. Aerial surveys over dry cropland has revealed the outlines of several prehistoric and Roman ruins.

The surveys show marks made when crops growing over buried features develop at a different rate from those nearby.

Photos here. (via clusterflock)

Crazy cloudsAug 05 2010

These are the types of storms I drive away from. That's just me, though.

Slow motion lightning strikeJul 28 2010

A lightning strike recorded at 9000 frames per second.

The action across time scales displayed in this video is amazing. One strike hovers in the frame almost the entire time while other hundreds of other strikes flicker in and out in single frames.

Cloud bacteria brings May showersApr 02 2010

Recent evidence suggests that bacteria in clouds may have evolved the ability to make it rain as a way of dispersing themselves around the globe.

The theory-called bioprecipitation-was pioneered by David Sands, a plant pathologist at Montana State University, in the 1980s. But little information existed on how the rainmaking bacteria moved through the atmosphere until Christner and his colleagues began their work in 2005. Sands told National Geographic News that the critters may even employ creative means of transportation: For instance, they could "ride piggyback" on pollen or insects. "We thought [the bacteria] were just plant pathogens [germs], but we found them in mountain lakes, in waterfalls, in Antarctica-they get around," Sands said.

Nor'easter timelapseMar 30 2010

This is a radar timelapse of the 22 major storms to hit the Northeastern United States this winter.

From the Accuweather site:

These winter storms have dropped 30-40 inches of rain (and liquid snow) in the I-95 corridor, which would normally only receive 20-25 inches over the winter.

(via infectious greed)

New world record wind speedFeb 02 2010

The World Meteorological Organization recently released a report saying that Mt. Washington's world record 231 mph wind gust was exceeded by a 253 mph wind measured in 1996 during a typhoon. (thx, mouser)

The neverending lightning stormJan 20 2010

Since at least 1595, a lightning storm has flashed above Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela with remarkable regularity.

It's still unknown exactly why this area -- and this area alone -- should produce such regular lightning. One theory holds that ionized methane gas rising from the Catatumbo bogs is meeting with storm clouds coming down from the Andes, helping to create the perfect conditions for a lightning storm.

With a total of roughly 1.2 million lightning discharges per year, the Relampago del Catatumbo is thought to be the world's greatest producer of ozone. As the lightning rips through the air, it produces nitrogen oxide, which is later converted by sunlight into ozone, which ends up in a protective layer high above the planet.

I learned about this storm from the description of a course that Geoff Manaugh is teaching at Columbia about...what would you call it...geoarchitecture?

The studio will be divided into three groups -- one designing glaciers, one designing islands, one designing storms. Each group will mix vernacular, non-fossil fuel-based building technologies with what sounds like science fiction in order to explore the fine line between architectural design and the amplified cultivation of natural processes.

Hurricane photosSep 08 2008

Absolutely scrumtrilescent photos of hurricanes from space. The Big Picture once again. I feel as though Alan is reaching directly into my brain and asking, "hey, what photos do you want to see next to flood you with high levels of dopamine?"

MSNBC's hurricane trackerAug 29 2008

Here's MSNBC's nifty new hurricane tracker tracking Gustav bearing down on Louisiana like a shotgun full of wind and rain. Built by Stamen. (via jimray)

The 10 most appropriate weatherperson names...like RayApr 25 2008

The 10 most appropriate weatherperson names...like Ray Ban and Storm Field. When I was a kid watching the news out of Minneapolis, their morning weather guy's name was Sunny Haus. (Not his real name though...the station wouldn't let Steve Wolhenhaus go by his real name.)

The Tempest Prognosticator is a barometer filledFeb 04 2008

The Tempest Prognosticator is a barometer filled with leeches. When the leeches become agitated because of a change in pressure, they wiggle around, causing a bell to be rung. Ringing bell = storm's a comin'. Reminds me a bit of the weather rock..."if rock is wet, it is raining". (thx, shay)

Cumul.us, the collaborative weather site INov 08 2007

Cumul.us, the collaborative weather site I told you about last month, has launched.

Ben Tesch is about to launch aOct 26 2007

Ben Tesch is about to launch a collaborative weather site called cumul.us. It'll aggregate weather information and harness the wisdom of crowds to see if they can make better weather predictions than the experts.

Will this all work? Who knows, but it only took me two months to make, and I wanted to find out.

Unlike so many other types of information, the web has had little impact on how weather reporting is done (the Weather Channel stuff is still rudimentary), so it'll be interesting to see if this works.

Michael Lewis on a new way inSep 14 2007

Michael Lewis on a new way in which insurance companies are evaluating risk with respect to natural catastrophes.

The logic of catastrophe is very different: either no one is affected or vast numbers of people are. After an earthquake flattens Tokyo, a Japanese earthquake insurer is in deep trouble: millions of customers file claims. If there were a great number of rich cities scattered across the planet that might plausibly be destroyed by an earthquake, the insurer could spread its exposure to the losses by selling earthquake insurance to all of them. The losses it suffered in Tokyo would be offset by the gains it made from the cities not destroyed by an earthquake. But the financial risk from earthquakes -- and hurricanes -- is highly concentrated in a few places. There were insurance problems that were beyond the insurance industry's means. Yet insurers continued to cover them, sometimes unenthusiastically, sometimes recklessly.

Projected climate map of Europe in 2071. TheMay 18 2007

Projected climate map of Europe in 2071. The map is a bit confusing...the cities are placed on the map according to their projected new climate, not their geographical location. So, in 2071, Berlin will find itself in the same climate as circa-2007 North Africa.

Noctilucent clouds (really high whispy clouds) wereMay 01 2007

Noctilucent clouds (really high whispy clouds) were so common where I grew up in WI that I thought they were normal. Turns out they only appear in higher latitudes, at least until recently when global warming has caused them to appear more frequently and further south.

WindMaker adds motion to a web siteApr 18 2007

WindMaker adds motion to a web site based on the current wind conditions at a place of your choosing. Here's kottke.org with NYC wind and with Chicago wind. (thx, jim)

Get the weather report via Twitter forMar 23 2007

Get the weather report via Twitter for more than a dozen cities. Looks like it hasn't been working for the past few days though...maybe once they get their scaling and IM issues figured out.

Do very large snowflakes exist? "Now, theorists,Mar 20 2007

Do very large snowflakes exist? "Now, theorists, weather historians and field observers are concluding that most of the reports are true and that unusually large snowflakes two to six inches wide and perhaps wider fall regularly around the globe, surprisingly big and fluffy, if seldom witnessed or celebrated." During a snowstorm when I was in college, I saw puffy snowflake balls about 1-2 inches in diameter falling from the sky...it was the coolest thing.

Sometimes I think that what Americans areFeb 18 2007

Sometimes I think that what Americans are best at is inventing new forms of conspicuous consumption. A man who sells snow guns for personal use (so that the kids can play in the snow even when the weather doesn't oblige) says, "New Jersey is a big area for us. There's no snow, and lots of disposable income."

The weatherman throws up his handsFeb 14 2007

Right now, "Unknown Precipitation" is falling from the sky in NYC:

Unknown Precip

They must have some idea what this stuff is. Maple syrup? Soylent green? Pepsi Cola?

Update: Alright, this calls for some intrepid investigative reporting. I just stuck my hand out the window of my apartment and can tell you that the mystery liquid is not hydrochloric acid. I repeat, not hydrochloric acid...I still have the full use of my hand.

Update: Feeling emboldened that my hand didn't melt off, I stuck it out the window again and let some of this unknown liquid pool in my palm. The liquid is clear and flavorless, which rules out whiskey, transmission fluid, honey, and pig's blood. It's too soon to tell for sure, but I'm guessing the precipitation is some form of water.

Margaret Bourke-WhiteFeb 08 2007

I came across this striking photo by Margaret Bourke-White the other day:

Margaret Bourke-White - Bread Line during the Louisville flood, Kentucky, 1937

It's a photo of a bread line during the Louisville Flood in 1937. The 1937 flood was one of the worst floods ever to occur in the Ohio River Valley:

In January of 1937, rains began to fall throughout the Ohio River Valley, eventually triggering what is known today as the "Great Flood of 1937". Overall, total precipitation for January was four times its normal amount in the areas surrounding the river. [...] The Weather Bureau reported that total flood damage for the entire state of Kentucky was 250 million dollars, which was an incredible sum in 1937. Another flood of this magnitude would not be seen in the Ohio River Valley until 60 years later.

A diary from Mama Bondurant provides a glimpse into what the flood was like:

January 22---This is another terrible day. The water is still rising and we hear distress cries everywhere. I have tired all day to get West Point, but it is still under water. Jim came home for a little while but went back to Camp Knox to assist in placing flood sufferers from West Point. It is so bad outside. Rain has turned to sleet. Electricity is gone. No lights or radio.

Working as a photographer for Life magazine, Bourke-White also took this iconic photo of Gandhi and his spinning wheel.

Totally crazy video of cars sliding aroundJan 19 2007

Totally crazy video of cars sliding around on an icy Portland Street. The soundtrack in my head is playing The Blue Danube when I watch this. (via bb)

Maybe one of the reasons that theJan 10 2007

Maybe one of the reasons that the US hasn't embraced global warming as a national priority is because the country is so large that it never experiences collective weather extremes the way Europe does.

Dear Mr. Old Man Winter,Jan 06 2007

Please consider this letter notice of your termination, effective immediately. Despite clear expectations and requirements -- January temperatures not to exceed 40° F, consistent snow and blustery conditions, minimum of one blizzard with white-out per annum, &c. &c. -- you have failed to date to meet expectations and deliver even rudimentary winter weather. A forecast high of 72° today in New York City is clear proof of your failure to do your job.

A replacement will be appointed immediately. Perhaps we will try a young go-getter for this role, someone who is willing to take on the many weather challenges of this magnificent season rather than rest on his "Great Winter of '02-'03" laurels.

Yours truly,
Mother Nature

[Guest post by Meg Hourihan.]

It's that time of year again...orDec 15 2006

It's that time of year again...or at least it will be when it stops being so damn warm out: make your own snowflake. (Apologies to those in the southern hemisphere...bookmark this for 6 months from now.)

Update: Here's another make your own snowflake dealie which is a little nicer. (thx, andrea)

Welcome to your new climate: in 2006, EuropeDec 05 2006

Welcome to your new climate: in 2006, Europe experienced its warmest autumn in 500 years. "The results show that 2006 has beaten the 'hottest' autumns of 1772, 1938 and 2000 by about a degree."

Huge gallery of unusual cloud formation photos.Sep 26 2006

Huge gallery of unusual cloud formation photos. Personal weirdest cloud story: late afternoon in the Wisconsin fall, clouds covered perfectly one half of the sky while the other half was completely clear blue.

Forecast Advisor tracks how accurate the majorSep 15 2006

Forecast Advisor tracks how accurate the major weather forecasting companies are in predicting temperature and precipitation. Results vary based on what part of the country you're in (the weather in Honoulu is easier to forecast than that of Minneapolis), but overall the forecasters have an accuracy rate of around 72%.

Amazing photoset depicting the aftermath of aAug 25 2006

Amazing photoset depicting the aftermath of a hailstorm in Northfield, MN. Tennis ball-sized hail puts holes in everything. (via eyeteeth)

Could global warming kill the internet? "TheAug 02 2006

Could global warming kill the internet? "The internet is a big network of servers, and servers are hot. They devour electricity, they run hot and they mainline air conditioning. When the global thermostat goes up, the servers start going down." (via migurski)

Forecast high in NYC today: 101 degrees. Tomorrow: 102Aug 01 2006

Forecast high in NYC today: 101 degrees. Tomorrow: 102 degrees. Heat index of 115 degrees. Blech.

The Forecast Umbrella uses WiFi to checkMay 05 2006

The Forecast Umbrella uses WiFi to check the weather report and if it's likely to rain, the handle glows. Kinda like Sting, Frodo's sword that glows when there's orcs around. (also via infosthetics)

It finally rains in Phoenix after 143 daysMar 13 2006

It finally rains in Phoenix after 143 days without precipitation. I posted about the lack of rain on my site the other day and reader Dino called the site "the modern equivalent of a rain dance" because "it finally rained here the day after you posted that article". Heh. (thx, dino)

72 degrees this early in March means eatingMar 10 2006

72 degrees this early in March means eating lunch outside. (And 90 in Austin this weekend? Woo!)

Phoenix has gone 142 days without rain.Mar 10 2006

Phoenix has gone 142 days without rain.

The current weather conditions in the captialsFeb 13 2006

The current weather conditions in the captials of the Axis of Evil countries.

"In the late 20th Century, the northernFeb 13 2006

"In the late 20th Century, the northern hemisphere experienced its most widespread warmth for 1,200 years". "The last 100 years is more striking than either [the Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age]."

Caught in the rainNov 26 2005

You know how when everyone knows something you don't know and after a little bit you get a funny feeling that you know that they know something but you still don't know what It is and you end up with your palms outstretched and your shoulders slightly hunched generally feeling like a dope while everyone chuckles at your ignorance? Getting caught in a tropical rain storm is like that, except that instead of everyone chuckling at you, you just get massively wet.

I was out walking the other day, heading to the travel agency to arrange our daytrip to the Mekong Delta. People generally don't walk large distances in Saigon like one might in NYC. The sidewalks are crammed with motorbikes (motorbike parking lots are right on the sidewalk instead of dedicated structures), people selling things, and cracked or otherwise uneven pavement. But old habits die hard, so I was out walking.

All of a sudden, there was a flurry of activity. Motorbikes started driving all over the sidewalks, routing around the traffic jam that had developed in the intersection. The sidewalks cleared. I was a bit too busy trying to negotiate the sidewalks with all the motorbike coming at me and from behind me for me to register that something was afoot -- it was only afterwards that I put it all together. Then it started to rain, just a sprinkle at first. A man selling something out of a basket by the side of the road produced a plastic poncho seemingly out of nowhere, slipped it on, covered his basket with a plastic bag, and quickly took off around the corner, leaving his basket there on the street.

And then it really started to rain. Big huge drops falling fast. I looked around and found myself on one of the few streets not lined with awninged shops so I sprinted for cover under a tree. The traffic was as thick as ever, but I noticed that as soon as the rain started, all the motorbike drivers and passengers magically had ponchos on. Stupid prescient locals. Meanwhile, my tree was not up to the task of stopping a torrential downpour. Already soaking, I sprinted for a nearby (thankfully unoccupied) pay telephone, above which was a small awning, just big enough for one skinny kid from Wisconsin.

Ten minutes later, the rain slacked enough for me to run the remaining 100 yards to the travel agency. Dripping like a wet dog all over their floor, the woman asked me, "you get here by taxi or walk?"

"Walk," I replied.

She shook her head in pity. Turns out there's another reason why people probably don't walk much around here.

With 5 weeks to go in hurricane season,Oct 25 2005

With 5 weeks to go in hurricane season, tropical storm Alpha breaks the record for most named storms in the Atlantic Ocean. All of this year's names have been used up, which means the remaining storms will be named after sequential Greek letters.

Suroweicki on gas prices and Katrina: "AmericansSep 20 2005

Suroweicki on gas prices and Katrina: "Americans are happy with the free market when it allows them to buy cheap T-shirts and twenty-nine-dollar DVD players, but they tend to like it less when they have to pay fifty dollars to fill up their gas tanks."

Elizabeth Kolbert (who wrote three articles forSep 13 2005

Elizabeth Kolbert (who wrote three articles for the NYer on global warming earlier in the year) discusses global warming as a possible cause for Hurricane Katrina. Like the climate scientists on RealClimate contend, Kolbert notes that no particular storm can be caused by global warming, but that the long-term patterns don't look good...increased greenhouse gases = warmer oceans = more destructive hurricanes. Paul Recer downplays the connection as well and cautions environmental groups who want to make political hay with scientific evidence that doesn't support their claims.

According to this chart, the price ofSep 06 2005

According to this chart, the price of a gallon of gasoline in NYC rose about 70 cents in the 5 days after Katrina...that's one of the steepest increases I could find.

Katrina assistanceAug 31 2005

A reader inquires:

When the tsunami struck Asia last year, Amazon.com was quick to post a donation link on its front page. Don't you think they should do the same for the victims of Katrina? How about using that platform of yours to apply some leverage to Jeff and the crew to get a link up there?

Amazon's lack of a donation link was noted in our household this morning as well. How about it, Amazon? (thx scott)

In the meantime, you can donate directly to the Red Cross (the site seems a little slow right now, so be patient).

Update: Please stop emailing me about the tsunami/Katrina comparison thing. I don't wish to debate the relative scale of natural disasters or who deserves more attention and aid when bad stuff happens. Individuals and corporations alike need to determine who they wish to aid on their own terms. In the past, Amazon has been a place to go to give aid...it's the first place I thought of going when I heard of the escalating problems in the Gulf states (and I don't think I'm alone here) because if they had a donation mechanism, it would be a fast link and easy for people to donate. That Amazon has chosen to not to set up a donation mechanism in this case is their choice and I certainly don't fault them for it.

Update #2: InternetWeek is reporting that Amazon has decided not to add a donation mechanism to their site. (thx, julio)

Update #3: Amazon now has a donation link on the front page which goes to this donation page. (thx to several who wrote in, including those at Amazon.)

Katrina Check-In is "place to connect peopleAug 31 2005

Katrina Check-In is "place to connect people affected by Hurricane Katrina to those their loved ones". If you're out of danger or looking for someone in the affected area, you may want to check-in here.

The NY Times has photos and video from Hurricane Katrina.Aug 30 2005

The NY Times has photos and video from Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans blogger Brendan Loy is furiously blogging Hurricane Katrina.Aug 29 2005

New Orleans blogger Brendan Loy is furiously blogging Hurricane Katrina.

Today's big story is Hurricane Katrina httingAug 29 2005

Today's big story is Hurricane Katrina htting the Gulf Coast of the US around New Orleans and Biloxi. Boing Boing's got some pointers to accounts from that area. Be safe, everyone.

Hurricane Ivan generated what is thought toAug 05 2005

Hurricane Ivan generated what is thought to be the tallest wave ever observed. The wave was 91 feet high.

Exclusive: interview with Mr. Sun about the OS X Weather Dashboard widgetJun 23 2005

One of my favorite Dashboard widgets is the Weather widget. It's been pretty hot and sunny for the last few weeks here in NYC so I've been seeing quite a few pictures of my favorite yellow celestial object depicted on the widget. I recently had a chance to sit down with Mr. Sun, a long-time resident of both our solar system and the blogosphere, and I asked him about his Weather widget representations. Here's a portion of our interview:

Jason: How did the Weather Dashboard widget project come about?

Mr. Sun: Funny story. I'm kicking back, combustin' some rhymes, and this spacecraft approaches me. I'm about to throw a flare upside its flimsy-ass hull, when I notice it is sending a message out into the heliosphere.The damn thing is in Apple format, and I have Windows - so I have to download a special viewer. I finally decode the thing, and it's from Steve Jobs about an "insanely great" idea. I vaguely knew about him, because I'd been doing some advance work for Satan on how best to burn Gates for eternity. I'm a special consultant, basically. Anyway, I figured -- what the heck? So, that's how it started. Look, what network are you with again? I don't recognize you.

Moods of the sun

Jason: Is this the type of work you want to be doing at this point in
your 4.5 billion year career?

Mr. Sun: Look, I'm not going to radiate sunshine up your you-know-what. I'm struggling. Back in the day, I had a great agent -- Nicolaus. Not the brightest guy in the cosmos, but totally devoted to me. He made me feel like I was the center of the universe. I remember I worked with Frank Capra on Our Mr. Sun. Just between you and me, that guy was a little too sunny even for me -- ringing bells and angels wings -- whatever. Then, there was the "Pee-wee incident" involving an unfortunate choice I made in a public setting. I know it's no excuse, but I've warned you people to wear those glasses. I was in a slump. I started to get mean, sloppy, and pathetic. I wasn't combusting properly -- I had bad gas. So yes, I agreed to lend my likeness to the OS X weather widget. Is it where I want to be right now? No. Is it an honest gig? Yes, I think so. I've been thinking about starting a blog anyway; someone needs to let those other Sun Shadys know they are just imitating.

Jason: But do you really need any more exposure? You've got the most prime advertising position in the world -- 5 or 6 billion people a day can see you by just looking up -- what more are you looking for?

Mr. Sun: Eyeballs. Is that all you Internet types ever think about? You want to know who had a lot of eyeballs on him? Mahir. Do you want to be that guy for even one minute? I KISS YOU !!!!! You ask me how I can want more. Let me tell you a story that may help you understand. When I was younger, I watched Daedalus and his son fly just beneath me, soaring out of captivity on wings made of feathers stuck with wax to a flimsy wooden frame. Drunk with freedom, Icarus looked directly at me. I felt the panic of his watchful father, but I was mesmerized by his youthful passion. I met his gaze. He moved toward me and the rest they call myth. I made a vow that day to never stay still. Yes, I am fixed in the sky -- but not at my core. The fire that sustains me is fueled by the memory of what it took for Icarus to make his way to me, and the debt I owe for my part in his fall to earth. I can't repay that debt from 93 million miles away, but sitting on your desktop, I can at least start. I am also told the Internet is basically just one gigantic Porn Delivery Device, and I haven't had any good jacking material since the Soviets from Mir jettisoned their garbage. Did you ever say where you are from? Was it the Wall Street Journal? I'd love to have one of those stencilled sketches of me.

Jason: The photography in this shoot looks more candid than in past shoots by NASA, ground-based astronomers, or vacationing amateurs. In one photo, it looks like you're crying and in another you appear to be surrounded by a haze of marijuana smoke. Are we finally seeing the real you?

Mr. Sun: Looks can be very deceiving. In this case, however, they are not. Last year, I cried nonstop for three of your earth months. I cried because I burn anyone who comes close to me. I cried because I shine alone in the blackness of space. I cried because just once, I'd like to feel pretty and I know that will never happen. As for the haze of smoke around me, I am made of gas. If I wasn't churning gas around, you'd all be as frozen as Ted Williams head, so maybe you should think twice before demoting me from life-sustaining star to orbital stoner. Look, I've been around the block a time or two when it comes to humanity. At first, you were fearful of me. Later, you worshipped me as a god. Now, you ask me these cynical questions. Fine, no problem. I'll be around to see the cycle repeat itself a few thousand more times. I'm just a star, an ordinary star. Deal with it.

Thanks for joining us, Mr. Sun.

On lightning strike survivorsJun 07 2005

On lightning strike survivors. "Because strikes are so rare, and because their symptoms are so obscure, victims are often dismissed by doctors, not surprisingly, as malingerers or told they have psychosomatic disorders."

Short series of photos from an Iraqi sandstormMay 02 2005

Short series of photos from an Iraqi sandstorm.

The second of Elizabeth Kolbert's three-part seriesMay 02 2005

The second of Elizabeth Kolbert's three-part series on global warming for the New Yorker. This one's about how relatively short-term climate change can affect entire civilizations.

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