LOCAL VIEW —Whiplash—

You can click the six maps below to clarify and enlarge them, though I prefer to open them to new tabs and then switch back and forth between them.

The maps show Tropical Storm Ana moving into the Carolina coast and then swinging back out to sea, weakening until it is just the dashed orange line of an upper air trough in the final map, though it it is supplying “juice” to the continental storm that the six maps show slowly lumbering across the USA, and perhaps causing that lumbering storm to intensify.

Neither Ana nor the lumbering storm seemed to matter much to the hills I live midst, as we were between hot west winds with temperatures up near 90° (32° Celsius) and east winds with temperatures down to 55° (13° Celsius).

The first map shows the cold air being pushed away and a warm front crossing New England.

20150509 satsfc

The next map shows the warm air over New England and the front to the north, but starting to sag south.20150510 satsfc Then the next map shows the front right over us, and hot west winds turning cold and east.20150511 satsfc Then the next map shows the warm air starting to fight back

20150511B  satsfcThen the next map shows the warm front again winning our territory, but this time with a cold front on its heels.20150512 satsfc

Then the final map shows the cold front passing over us, but quite different from the others, for this time the cold winds are west winds.20150512B satsfc

The best way to envision the huge differences these fronts make is to use the Maps produced by Dr. Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell site, and used by Joseph D’Aleo on his blog at the same site. These maps make 55° air look cold and blue, and 90° air look hot and red, which is how it feels, when you are working in a garden.

The maps show the first heat halted by a “back door front” on May 8, then the heat returning in a forecast map for May 10, and then the May 12 map, before the heat returned for a final visit this morning, before replaced by what I suppose should be called a “front door front” this evening.

NE Temp May 8 rtma_tmp2m_neus__1_(4) NE Temp May 10 ecmwf_t2m_neng_8 NE Temp May 12 rtma_tmp2m_neus__4_(4) The dramatic shifts in temperature reminded me a lot of working on the coast of Maine, where you might be working in a T-shirt and shorts before lunch, and then in long pants and jacket in the afternoon, when a cold fog came ashore on a sea breeze. The difference between those days and now is that right on the coast the fog got everything wet, but I now live so far inland that the fog is up a hundred or so feet, and so discouraged by the arid landscape that it unravels and shows bits of blue sky, and everything stays dry.

It is somewhat amazing to have 25 degree shifts in temperature without rain, though we actually did have a bit of thunder growl by on Sunday, miles away, and a sprinkle of around 47 raindrops dimple the dust. However a sea breeze, even the glorified sea breeze called a “back door front”, seldom makes the ruckus of a front door front from the west.

My garden is so parched I was looking forward to the front from the west today, expecting a proper drenching, however we only got a measly little shower as the front passed, without thunder and without enough water to make rivulets by the roads.

I am starting to wonder if we are in for a drought. They are fairly uncommon in New England, but I can remember one that worried people in the early 1960’s, even to the degree where they were talking about re-engineering public works projects, but then the rains returned and everyone said, “The heck with that.”

As a boy I liked the drama of the 1960’s drought, and the fact you could explore parts of reservoirs ordinarily hidden, as if it was low tide. A forgotten town reappeared along the shrinking shoreline of Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts, and was remembered, and I thought it was pretty cool that forgotten people were remembered.

Less cool was a fire I started (a story for another evening) and also some very deep mud. It was mud ordinarily covered by the waters of Stony Brook Reservoir. (This also is a story for another evening, but I must tell a little of it.)

To cut a long story short, Stony Brook had created a delta of mud, where its torrents poured into the still waters of the reservoir, and the drought exposed the delta, and furthermore crusted it over with a scab of dried mud I could walk on, until I broke through. The mud was five feet deep when I was only four feet tall, but I managed to escape with my life, scared to death, and in a very muddy condition that was definitely not cool, nor the way a young fellow wants to look when he is first starting to think girls might not be annoying.

In any case, droughts sure made life interesting. The rear view mirror of life colors things golden, and I almost think it might be nice to have a drought make life interesting once again.

Do I really want the drama of drought
Or would I rather have regular rains?
I suppose it’s between me getting out
Of a boredom that is causing me pains,
Or calling boredom something I’ll stomach.
I’ve known far worse. He who escaped gutters
Calls the mediocre a high summit.
I’d gladly stay put, but my heart mutters
That the mediocre’s mediocre.
Is the choice between gutters and the bland?
Is nothing better, as I face poker?
Is nothing more uplifting and grand?
Until I can speak the answering out
I’ll strangely live in the drama of drought.


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