Streetlight Transformer

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Awake O world
As orange-skinned morning
Lifts silent trumpets
Of gold.
Lift up your head.
Come down from bed
And seek the King’s
The streets are lined
With silence.
All await the bold.
Go out O world
And see there’s more
Than daily, dull

LOCAL VIEW –Cold Comfort–

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The  Atlantic was so hot today that islands in the distance seemed to float over the shimmer of a mirage, like you see shimmering over a hot highway in July. The difference was the Atlantic really wasn’t hot as a highway; it was cool, but the air was frigid.

A gale was blowing straight from the north, and the surf grew manes like charging horses.

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I dressed in my warmest clothes, with my warmest long underwear, for a beach is beautiful in all weathers, except perhaps for women. Personally I prefer bikinis to burkas.

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Somewhere under that bundling was my wife, and her voice was warm, and that really is the main thing that matters.

It has been too long since the summer of love
When it all seemed obvious and simple.
The Woodstock dream was a beckoning dove
That made young maid’s cheeks beautifully dimple
But now those cheeks are like leather and creased
And the beauty is kept sheltered within.
The maid’s lovely smile has now sadly ceased
For she shows missing teeth with her grin.
Time’s tax has robbed those who do not look deep
And see that time improves wives as it does wine.
The superficial fall fast asleep
As others trim lamps for a Guest divine.
As winter draws near in the gathering storm
Be glad when you walk with a voice that is warm.

It is amazing how quickly the mind shifts gears, if you give it half a chance. I suppose that is why some spend so much to seek ski slopes. Being a bit more stingy, (call it frugal), and less able to withstand the terrible crashes which I, as a bad and reckless skier, once amazed (or horrified) all on the slopes with, I find a beach a better place to be when winds get bitter. But the effect is the same.  Senses are sharpened. And it is far cheaper, with off-season rates.

The streets are strangely deserted. You half expect to see a tumbleweed blowing down the ghost-town avenues, but instead must be satisfied with a windblown newspaper. (Rare enough; who reads those things any more?) Not only have tens of thousands of tourists left, but most of the workers who waitress tables and change sheets have fled as well. All that remains is a remnant of humanity, a little like you are in some sort of “Mad Max” movie about Earth after Armageddon. Vast eateries with huge parking lots are completely closed, and only smaller joints remain. And you had best be careful walking into such places. Some are where fellows go when they are unemployed from September to May, and you don’t want to bring a wife there. More upscale, but strangely even more adolescent, are restaurants where men connive how to rip off the public next June, (and I identify such places because all the cars outside have Florida and New Jersey plates, and the men inside wear shiny suits no one on vacation wears, and don’t drink from mugs.)

To eat well, go to a local grocery store. If you insist upon eating out, ask the people at the grocery store. The cashier will tell you she can’t afford to eat out, so my wife asked her where her parents ate out. Or ask the person running the place where you are staying.

To be honest, this research is far more fun than the recreation summer visitors find at night clubs or upon roller coasters or at miniature golf courses. Meeting people is far more fun than mere distractions.

And, if you are fed up with people and really do need a distraction, walk the beach and talk to the gulls. This is actually what drew people to the beach in the first place, though the purpose is defeated when you are elbow to elbow with ten thousand others on towels.  A beach is hardly a beach in the summer. The sands reverts to how a beach should be when the wind chill dips to zero (-17º Celsius).

The gulls are easier to talk to, because they are largely disgruntled. They were overfed during the summer, stealing people’s french fries and hot dogs, and do not approve of the changed circumstances. The sad fact of the matter is that plenty created an overpopulation, and many will not make it to spring. The healthier birds wheel and screech and fight over the sea-clams and dead crabs exposed by the retreating tide, in the acceptably un-spiritual manner of gulls, but many others crouch in the sand, sulking in the gale. The don’t want to fly in the wild wind, and even seem reluctant to waddle out of your way,  for that involves turning their tails to the wind, and the gale then plucks at their feathers, ruffling them like a hand rubbing a cat’s fur the wrong way.  Only with the most uncomplimentary glances your way will they open their wings and be whipped down the beach against the harsh glitter and glare of the wintry sun.

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Even as the lumbering gull is torn downwind, one notices tiny dots skittering to and fro below it, at the water’s edge. I suppose they are some sort of sandpiper. But what seems most incredible to me is that they are even able to survive in the cold.  Plucked they would amount to little more than a couple of tablespoons of hot blood,  and in the windchill two tablespoons should freeze solid in two minutes. Yet they seem utterly untroubled by the cold.  Compared to the gulls they seem downright cheerful. What sort of crazy metabolism burns in them? And what the heck are they pecking at in the sand that fuels such tiny engines?

Whatever it is, I want some.

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When gales dent my eyeballs and wires are singing
And ruffled gulls sulk, before bending downwind,
What sort of fires are sandpipers bringing
To beaches abandoned, where summer once grinned?
They skitter away from the water’s onrush,
Then scamper close to its sizzling retreat,
Untroubled by growling surf’s thump and hush
And running on amazingly unfrozen feet.
My fingers, far fatter, are bitten by frost,
Yet God keeps birds wonderfully warm.
Perhaps they’re a symbol, made for the lost
Who can’t see how they will live through a storm.
We shouldn’t be sure cold can chill to the bone
When Paul wrote great things from the sewers of Rome.

LOCAL VIEW –First Snow–

I recall reading a poem where the poet wistfully stated that someday perhaps we could again contemplate falling snow in the manner of Japanese poets of yore, and not be distracted by all our modern concerns about road conditions and whether we remembered to put on snow tires,  and what we will do if school is cancelled. For there is something to be said for the beauty of falling snow, especially the first flakes, falling when the final leaves are still on the trees.

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Sadly, I find I can’t sit back and contemplate much.  While the kale in the garden is improved by frost, the celery can’t withstand much freezing, and I have a good crop.

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But how am I to find time for the celery, when my wife isn’t too happy about my great harvest of hot peppers, gathered last week after our first freeze and still scattered about her kitchen?

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And how am I to find time for peppers with a business to run? Every day I write a list, but emergencies emerge, especially when you run a Childcare. Early childhood is actually one long emergency, as children are emerging into a world full of dangers and disasters. So that which is on my list doesn’t get done until it itself becomes an emergency. For example, I should check out the wood stoves when weather is warm, but I never get around to it until we start our first fire and the house fills with smoke. Then I have to frantically replace a stove pipe (40 years old and crumbling with corrosion) and sweep a chimney. Who has time to string up peppers?First Snow 4 FullSizeRender

The good side is that little children at our Childcare get to see a man work. Most Childcares give children the impression men evaporate at sunrise and materialize at sunset. At my place they get to feel the stiff wire bristles of a chimney brush, and see black flakes of creosote, and learn smoke can condense like steam can, and see me huff about with a long ladder over my shoulder, and understand men do work.

The bad part is that at my advanced age I’m not suppose to be huffing and puffing about. I’m suppose to wear a white suit and give orders like a fellow who owns a plantation.

How am I suppose to wear a white suit if I’m cleaning chimneys? Soot would spoil the fabric. As would dirt from the garden, and sap and sawdust from lugging firewood would be just as bad.  About the only good thing about snow is that I could wear a white suit in it and not get it dirty, but white linen is not made for cold climates and shoveling snow.

I actually feel a bit like a rat in a wheel, and have to steal time to write, but when my wife sees me sneaking off to my word processor she sometimes gives me the feeling that a man’s main aim in life is to avoid chores, whereupon I tell her a woman’s main aim in life is to create them.

Then our eyes meet, and we know it is time for a break. With a three day weekend coming up, we need a day at the beach. So let’s check the forecast.

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For those of you who like less precise temperatures, 16º Fahrenheit equals -9º Celsius. Winds will be from the north, gusting to thirty mph.

We will have the beach all to ourselves! Yippie!

Last spring I watched the final flakes falling
With the petals of an apple tree’s blooms
And wondered if I’d see the appalling,
Appealing white again. For our dooms
Are hidden from us. We can never guess
If tomorrow will come. In my mad case
It seems that the answer’s definitely, “yes.”
God’s willing I run a lap of the race
And feel snow in my face. On I will roam
With my beachcomber’s pension,with wild skies
and thudding surf a most beautiful poem
Even if I never ink the words that my eyes
See written by cirrus and hear in surf’s sighs.
The Timeless is peeking through time’s thin disguise. 


I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself lately, as my hobby of watching arctic sea-ice melt and reform has taken some serious hits. My entire reason for posting on this topic for half a decade sprung from the fact that the ice and sky of the Arctic Sea are beautiful, and I found it a lovely place to flee to, when I wanted to escape reality. Now it seems the funding for cameras, drifting about on buoys planted on the sea-ice, has dried up. No more pictures. No more beauty.

It was a purely accidental coincidence that what began as a retreat from reality put me dead center in a maelstrom of political nonsense. Apparently the sea-ice was suppose to be in rapid decline, due to a so-called “Death Spiral” caused by Global Warming, and the cameras were purported to be eyewitness views of this profound tragedy, that would effect the entire human race. To which I merely noted, “Umm…….it doesn’t seem to be melting…” The response was overwhelming. The Alarmists ripped me to itty, bitty shreds, but I found some amazingly good friends (who some called “Deniers” but I called “Skeptics”).

One interesting thing I discovered, just watching sea-ice, was that at times the various charts, maps and graphs produced by satellite data didn’t match what my eyes could actually see, through the camera’s lens. Skipping all the details, this led me to learning more about satellites, and the ways they interpret their data. I learned how to evaluate the satellite-produced maps with a wary eye, and to compare the maps produced by different nations. From there I moved on to an earlier love: The history of Arctic explorers, and studied various maps of what sea-ice was like in the past, again seeing various interpretations drawn from the same scant data. It has been a wonderful way to waste time and avoid doing my chores, but now it seems to be coming to an end. Not only the cameras, but even the satellites may go unfunded.

Ugly: President Trump Accused of Obstructing Climate Research

Now, I know that the government has been spending money like a drunken sailor, and is deeply in debt, and perhaps all the concern about the arctic was a waste of money. Also maybe I should myself waste less time and do my chores more. But allow me a bit of self-pity over the ruin of my hobby.

I’ll try to be a good sport about the ruination of my hobby. After all, it appears the Skeptics have pretty much won the battle, as the “Death Spiral” has simply failed to manifest in the expected manner. Not even a “Super-El-Nino” could make much headway. Alarmists look ludicrous. With the battle won, perhaps it is time to beat swords into plowshares, (though,  when the pen is more mighty than the sword, perhaps I am beating my pen into something that does chores, such as the rag you wash dishes with.)

However it seems an inconvenient time for cameras and satellites to go dark. There are interesting things happening, (interesting to me at least). Even if Global Warming is largely overrated as a threat, and Alarmist attempts to make it be a threat are largely money-grubbing balderdash, weather still happens, and weather effects everyone every day. Ordinary swings in ordinary cycles are worth paying attention to, as they effect the people who work outside, such as the men who grow potatoes and go to sea for fish, and therefore also effect the guy who only walks outside to go buy some fish-and-chips.

Two ordinary cycles are the movement of a “warm” AMO to a “cold” AMO, and the movement of a “noisy” sun to  “quiet” sun. In the former case the last time it occurred was around 1960, and the latter case it last happened around 1800.  In both cases people of the past had far less sophisticated means of collecting data. In both cases we are now, in a sense, seeing the changes for the first time, in terms of seeing with satellites and a multitude of scientific buoys. We are pioneers standing at the verge of a wilderness.

These longer cycles may be effecting how shorter cycles manifest. For example, the ENSO cycle has been misbehaving, (if you insist it should behave in a certain way). The last El Nino was “too big and too long” and the last La Nina was “too little and too short”. Rather than leaping to the ordinary conclusion, (because that is where the money is) and shouting Global Warming is to blame, it might be better to simply be quiet and use our powers of observation. If we are pioneers then we are seeing new things, and should expect the unexpected.

One man who always impresses me with his powers of observation is Bob Tisdale. To me it seemed he had the scientific training I lack, (and perhaps the patience I lack), and when I first noticed him, back before the “Watts Up With That” site even existed, he always seemed to be be quietly asking questions, reading scientific papers, and casually (and perhaps at times accidentally) embarrassing Alarmists by knowing more than they did about ENSO cycles. Eventually he was able to shoot holes in some of the more sensational Alarmist claims, and put his knowledge down in a 559 page work called “Who Turned On The Heat”. A free copy is available here:

Of course, the usual suspects heaped scorn on Bob and accused him of being funded by “Big Oil” and so on and so forth, which is a lousy way to treat a man who (though he does have a tip jar at his website) basically worked for free. Last January he went to the beach and didn’t bother come back, and his website became quiet:

At first I worried about his health, but recently he has reemerged, after nearly a year of R+R.  Partly I think it was because some of the outrageous claims made by Alarmists during the hurricane season simply demand curt ridicule, but also I think it may be because the ENSO’s recent behavior is fascinating. I noticed he commented on the fact the ENSO has cooled the surface temperatures with the developing La Nina, but is lagging, when it comes to cooling air higher up in the troposphere.

While global surface temperature cools, the lower troposphere has record warmest October

Now this is just the sort of event where we could use the keenly observant mind that Tisdale has, but hell if we deserve it, for we, as a society, have allowed this gentleman to be disdained, as we have allowed other men, who are preening imbeciles and sometimes have last names rhyming with “skam”,  to be flattered and rewarded.  Perhaps Tisdale might go back to work if we all now groveled a bit, or perhaps fifty grand in his tip jar might encourage him. But my point is that for going on twenty years now the better minds have been discouraged, while the bottom of the barrel have been encouraged. Basically we should expect little more than to reap what we have sown.

(In case you think this is just my way of hinting I might deserve fifty grand in my own tip jar, please note this site doesn’t have a tip jar. I am incorruptible), (not because I am particularly virtuous, but rather I’m too damn lazy to figure out how to set up a tip jar.) (Anyway, I don’t feel all that disdained, because I’ve always been the sort of writer who creates jams of people in doorways, as crowds are so eager to avoid hearing my “poems”. Therefore getting cursed for being a Skeptic is a step in the right direction, for some attention is better than none at all.)

My own focus has been on sea-ice, which is a long way from the tropical waters where the ENSO acts out its dance. The ENSO does effect sea-ice, but after a considerable lag that processes through convolutions I don’t think anyone understands. I know I don’t. But when I look south I wish there was a mind like Tisdales I could ask questions of.

Those who look back at my old posts know I’ve been wondering if there is any noticeable correlation between sunspot cycles and the ENSO cycles.

In my simplistic way I see the ENSO as a small boy sloshing water east and west in a mighty big bathtub, called the Pacific, with the size of the sloshes determined by a multitude of factors that make up the “boy”. The most obvious factor is the east to west winds. If those winds are related to the amount of energy coming from the sun, then any change in the sun’s activity would be reflected in the sloshes. If the sunspot cycles were nice and regular the oscillation might make for nice, predicable sloshes. But the “Quiet Sun” might be a bit like the small boy hearing the approaching footsteps of a mother: The sloshes go through a dramatic change.

The thing that makes for complete confusion is that ENSO does not work in isolation, but effects the weather patterns around it, which in turn effect the ENSO, until it is hard to see which came first, the chicken or the egg.  Therefore the oscillations are likely not nice and neat, like a two-stroke-engine, but rather are likely hideously complicated, like a fifteen-and-a-half stroke engine. It would be hard enough to figure out the engineering if the sunspot cycles remained regular, but this “Quiet Sun” adds another variable. It is a wrench in the works of a works that already holds wrenches.

In any case, knowing how astute Bob Tisdale’s powers of observation are, I wish he (or someone like him) would set his mind upon determining if the sun’s variations are reflected in any way we can see, in the ENSO. (I’m sure the effect is there, but it may be lost in the muddle.)

At the equator, if the Quiet Sun’s less generous supply of energy translated into weaker westerlies,  then the lack of energy would be measured by anemometers and not thermometers. Weaker westerlies would make an ordinary sequence of an El Nino giving way to a La Nina have the El Nina be stronger and longer and the La Nina be weaker and shorter, which is exactly what we have seen.  This would create milder temperatures, which is not what one would expect from a “colder” sun.

At the Pole, however, the Quiet sun is measured by thermometers. Or that is the case when the sun is up 24 hours a day. The Summers have indeed been colder at the Pole since the sun has gone quiet.

This creates a clash between warmer tropics and a colder Pole, during the summer, and has led to a unique situation, as soon as the sun starts to sink at the Pole and relinquishes its grip. We have seen more late summer Polar gales, and invasions of mild air from the south all winter long, creating an anomalous area of polar low pressure I’ve called “Ralph.”

I was thinking that, now that I have no cameras to watch sea-ice with any more, I’d focus on Ralph, but wouldn’t you just know it? As soon as I am ready to focus on Ralph he gets shy. It’s hard to see him any more.

In some ways perhaps the unique situation has ended. We no longer have a Super-El-Nino conjunct with a cold-summer-Pole. Things are simply returning to normal.  So maybe I ought retire from the present tense, and just study my old maps.

However there is something very intriguing about the current situation that makes me feel it isn’t really “back to normal.”  The Quiet Sun is approaching its minimum, and that would mean the equator would continue to see reduced Westerlies, if that indeed is an effect of the Quiet Sun. However I have a sense the tropics have some sort of limit to how much heat they can supply. At some point the well goes dry. At some point the calf can butt the cow’s udder all it wants, but there is no more milk available. Last summer an El Nino attempted to generate, but collapsed into a La Nina.

This confusion down in the tropics sends a mixed message, in a lagged way, towards the Pole. In the past year we’ve had a La Nina that failed and an El Nino that failed and now a La Nina again, (which also may be short lived). This confusion is different, very different, from the very clear message of a Super-El Nino.  Though the lagged message is still of a warm sort, generally, the warmth lacks the power it formally had. The spikes on this autumn’s DMI temperature graph are nothing like last year’s. (2016 left; 2017 right)

I am expecting at least one big spike in temperatures, as a reflection of last summer’s failed El Nino, before Christmas. But I am on record as saying precisely on February 13 we will see temperatures dip down to the green line and perhaps below, as La Nina lagged effects occur. (We will see how good my guessing is by March.)

I could be very wrong. As I have stated before, we are Pioneers on the verge of a wilderness, and should expect the unexpected.

Currently the pattern is a bit boring. The North Atlantic gales are staying south, rather than veering north to fuel “Ralph”, and therefore high pressure has been more able to rule, especially over to the Pacific side. Currently the huge Atlantic low towards the top of Norway is filling and fading east along the Siberian Coast, as a new gale pummels southern Greenland. Over the Pole cold air is allowed to build without intrusions of milder air.

Because I am hypersensitive to “Ralph”, I can see him lurking in a feeble way atop Greenland. But I wouldn’t see that if I wasn’t looking for it. In fact I think Ralph may be becoming a thing of the past. Something new is in the wings.

I am watching the cold build at the Pole carefully, expecting it to invite a northward surge of mild air, as occurred at the end of December, 2015. If it stands its ground it is actually good news for people further south, for it may mean the cold will stay north this winter. This may please Alarmists who will make much ado about less snow to the south, but I doubt they’ll be happy to the the cold make sea-ice thicker.

In terms of sea-ice “extent” the “Death Spiral” fanatics are glum, for we are well above last year. If downward was “death”, we are headed for “life”. Why are they glum?

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Because “extent” was failing to accentuate downward “death”, last year some switched to “volume”, claiming the volume graphs (which are the most model-tainted and unreliable) proved we are doomed. Now they too are glum, as volume has increased. Why are they glum we’re not doomed? (Volume is graph to right, below.)

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The thickness graph (to left above) shows the sea-ice has been swift to form along the Siberian coast. This prevents evaporation of open water, and without that evaporation Atlantic lows will not be as willing to scoot along the Siberian coast to the Pacific, and will be more prone to hesitate and stall north of Finland.

One thing I haven’t seen before is so much ice jammed south between the islands of the Canadian Archipelago. Usually that sea-ice forms a wall along the north coast of the Archipelago. This year a particularly mobile surge of sea-ice came south past the east coast of Melville Island, across Parry Channel, and south to wipe out O-buoy 14 and perhaps make the Northwest Passage impassable for small boats next summer.

I suppose a year of thick ice in the Northwest Channel might at long last get it through certain thick skulls that the “Death Spiral” is not a reality. For me, it was proven years ago. Further proof is redundant.

To prove what I have already proven, because certain Alarmists can’t see, makes me a practitioner of redundancy. I have better things to do than to be an echo.

For this reason there may be more “local view” posts and fewer “sea-ice” posts, in the future, though I don’t think I’ll just vanish, as Bob Tisdale did.

One thing I’m hoping to find time for is use a whole slew of  maps to show the rise and fall of “Ralph”, even though that is in the past.

I will post about any surprises I see, in the arctic, (devoid of comments about Alarmist politics).

Stay tuned.



LOCAL VIEW —A Sneaky Storm—

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The above map shows a low developing off the east coast of the United States, but what it doesn’t show is what clobbered us. Namely, tropical storm Phillippe.

Phillippe existed on the map produced before this one, but the fellows at the weather bureau decided it no longer fit their standards. It was downgraded to the low to the south of the three lows gathered around Cape Hatteras.  Those three lows are undergoing the usual “bombogenesis”that creates our autumnal gales, and Phillippe has been relegated to the status of an appendage in the developing gale’s warm sector. Seemingly the developing gale grabbed the attention of the forecasters, and the ex-tropical-storm was suppose to simply cease to be. The only problem was, someone forgot to tell Phillippe.

Phillippe then proceeded to make the weather bureau look like dopes.  I figure I really have no right to criticize, unless I am on the record with a different forecast, because any fool can criticize weathermen using 20-20 hindsight. It takes guts to stick your neck out when you are dealing with multiple variables and a chaotic system, and most of the time the weather bureau does an amazing job. If you doubt me, try to forecast better than they do. But don’t try it unless your ego can withstand looking more dopey than a dope.

On this occasion I am kicking myself, because I should have gone on record. I was simply too busy with other stuff to put my doubts down in words, as a short post. I’ll put them down now as an afterthought, so you may share my doubts the next time you notice two things.

First, any sort of tropical storm in the warm sector of a developing gale will up the ante. The “Perfect Storm” 1991 had Hurricane Grace to tap. Other autumnal gales have seemed to fail to weaken even when occluded, as if the occlusion was a pipeline of tropical juice, (and at times as if the tropical storm was unwinding and feeding directly into the Gale.) In such cases a gale can give New England staggering amounts of rain. In other cases the upper air trough, digging down into the USA to create the Gale, is “negatively tilted” in such a manner the remnant of a tropical storm (and the gale-center itself) do not head out to sea, but curve inland, and at times the tropical remnant is accelerated north so abruptly that it is as if it is whipped north, and consequently it retains some of its tropical characteristics over waters so cold one ordinary would expect the storm to cease being tropical.

This brings me to my second point, which is that the hurricane center has some new and nit-picky way of defining a tropical storm that, to be a bit rude, seems ludicrous to me. Often it seems a case of “straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel”.

To say Hurricane Sandy was not a hurricane when it came ashore is a prime example, and may have even cost a few people their lives. Saying “Hurricane Sandy no longer exists” causes the average Joe to drop his guard. People don’t respect a “gale” the same way they respect a “hurricane”, and the weather bureau is suppose to serve the public, and not puff the vanity they display when they think they are showing off some sort of prowess, in being able to make some hair-splitting distinction between when a storm is officially “tropical” and when it becomes “extra-tropical”.

To make matters worse, once they have made this distinction, they then take themselves too seriously. Having determined Phillippe was no longer a tropical storm, because they did not put it on their map as more than an appendage, they were caught off guard when it came crashing through New England between the hours of midnight and 3:00 AM. And I’m sure they would be swift to give a multitude of reasons why it was not an actual tropical storm as it crashed through. But someone ought tell them, “If it walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck.”

It is amazing how fast such storms come north, when conditions are right. The 1938 hurricane sliced through New England moving at an estimated 60 mph. Likely it had lost its purely tropical characteristics, and there may even some nit-pickers at the weather bureau who can dicker in a nasal voice, “It wasn’t actually a hurricane.” That is how far from the outdoors computers can jail some poor minds, but anyone who quibbles the 1938 hurricane was not a hurricane quacks like a duck.

(Yet nearly all of these quibblers will tell you Hazel was not a tropical disturbance as it completely clobbered Toronto.)

In actual fact Phillippe ripped through New England like a smaller and weaker version of the 1938 storm, with abruptly rising winds and amazing, torrential downpours. Like the 1938 storm it and came and went before many fully registered what hit them. (Because it was weaker, some even slept through the event.)

I am personally praying we can get through this “warm” AMO without a repeat of the 1938 hurricane, because I don’t want to face cleaning up the mess. (It will be a job for the young and strong.) However Philippe is a reminder of what is possible. It shows how speeding tropical “disturbances” do not lose their tropical characteristics in the manner that computer models foresee. (Also Philippe may explain a strange “mini-hurricane” that lore reports bisected New England in the 1700’s.)

At bedtime on October 29 the forecast was “windy and rainy overnight”, but the wind and rains were light as my wife and I were turning in, around 9:00. I told her, “There will be quite a ruckus overnight. A tropical storm will be whipping past.” (How I wish I had posted that.) The last rainfall prediction I’d looked at stated the heaviest rain would be well to our west, over New York State, yet we might get as much as two inches.

Around midnight the wind awoke me. The rain drops were pelting the window as loudly as sleet, and the branches were roaring in a manner that made me glad that most of our leaves were gone. (Such a storm does far more damage when foliage is green). Then I remembered the auto-save on my ancient computer is having problems, and went downstairs to save my last post manually. Smart move. Shortly after I did it the lights blinked, and I had to reboot. After that I decided I might as well stay awake a while, and watched the unreal rains on the radar.

How much did we get? It’s hard to say, as rain gauges overflow at three inches, and not many were in the mood to go out at 1:30 AM, and again at 3:00 AM, to tend to their rain gauges. But empty wheelbarrows left in yards were brimming by dawn, (when they hadn’t been blown over.)  Despite the autumnal drought, the rains earlier in the week and these rains made small ditches torrents. And, as usual, every drain got clogged, as they always do in October gales, because the waters hold a summer’s worth of fallen leaves. Not only do drains clog, but culverts are plugged, as the clogging leaves are not alone, but mixed with twigs and branches and soon covered by sand and pebbles flushed down gutters by the torrents, until the culvert is completely buried:

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After that, water cannot go underground as intended, and rivers rattle cobblestones as big as grapefruits over tar, which makes things look untidy by dawn.

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Fortunately all this water didn’t go roaring through the center of town, because of the “flood control reservoir” upstream. As it is next-door to my Childcare, I took the children out to see how much higher the waters were. I wanted to see if they cared a hoot, and was somewhat surprised to see it did register upon the psyche of children only three and four years old, even if it can’t impress the ignorance of the computer modelers. Phillippe still had a heck of a clout,  passing through New England, though they had officiously pronounced him dead, a thousand miles south.

When you bother leave the cushy armchairs of computer sanctuaries, the outdoors can allow you to be as wise as a three year old. A little child notices when a spot where I allowed them to practice vandalism by smashing water with stones:

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Becomes a place they cannot go because it is under eight feet of water.

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They notice when the looming concrete outlet of the reservoir, eight feet high, is under water.

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They likely notice a lot of other things as well. Why do I say this? Because they haven’t lived as long as I, and can’t call this water level “the highest since 1997”. Also they lack the math to compute the huge amount of water held in check, and are not able to estimate the down-stream floods that would be occurring if not for this flood-control reservoir (and many others like it). Yet, despite this ignorance, they recognized this was one heck of an “event”, and their little jaws dropped, and they looked at me and exclaimed with owlish eyes, and demanded I tell them “why”.

Fortunately I can get off the hook by simply telling them, “Because it is a flood.” I add a word, “flood”, to their vocabulary. I don’t have to hurt their faith in grown-ups by telling them the grown-ups utterly botched the forecast, and the government experts displayed fabulous ineptitude.

What I especially avoid telling trusting children is that some grown-ups actually expect the government, which botched the forecast, to then step in and provide an answer to the ruin Philippe, (whom the government said didn’t exist), caused in certain neighborhoods (a ruin some children were quite aware of, as they had to stay home a day or two, due to the devastation).

The two best estimates, from people I trust (within limits), is that we had either seven-and-a-half or ten inches of rain, overnight. This turned, in places, ditches into ravines that undermined roads and (with the help of gales) toppled electrical poles. People were concerned they might not be able to recharge their cell-phones, and hurried to use dwindling batteries to call up the government, and demanded their roads be repaired and their electricity be restored, as if repairs involved a few clicks on a computer.


In earlier posts I’ve mentioned I know fellows on the road department, and am familiar with the work involved in fixing a thing as small as a pothole. It is not a virtual thing, involving a click of a computer. It involves sweat, and when the blemish in the road is not a pothole, but an abrupt gully six feet deep, the work involved is much greater.

In earlier posts I’ve also mentioned I’m friends with the fire chief, which may seem an odd factoid to bring up in a flood. But apparently there are some who do not respond by getting buckets and bailing, when their cellars are flooded, but instead call the fire department. The fire department represents the government, and also has pumps, and therefore the fire department needs to fix the problem, when Philippe floods the cellars of certain idiots.

Excuse me? If you bought the house, isn’t the cellar your problem? Or did the government buy your house? Yet people seem to feel their cellar is the problem I should pay taxes to fix.

It would be one thing if the fire department were called a single time for a single emergency, but certain people call the fire department rainstorm after rainstorm.

One fellow bought a house with a cellar so prone to flooding that he actually qualified for FEMA assistance. He had not only a pump, but a generator to run the pump when electricity failed, given to him for free, paid for by taxpayers like me. However, because Philippe was not forecast, he did not expect to lose power, or for his cellar to flood, and he therefore didn’t turn on the free generator and the free pump the government had provided. So he called the fire department at three in the morning, and told them the water in his cellar was nearly up to his electrical box. Then, as the local volunteers, groggy and called from warm beds, arrived, he jabbed a thumb backwards towards the door to his cellar, and went back to bed.

This really happened. I’m not making it up. As a consequence,  the volunteers were irate, and what used to be a freely given gift of good-heated local volunteers will soon be a deed you are charged for. If you want your basement pumped you will pay. (This is much like search-and-rescue now charging the people they search for and rescue.)

What it boils down to is this:

There is an outdoors reality that bureaucrats indoors by computers completely miss.

When this “outdoor reality” does more than tap our shoulders with a little “event” like Philippe, but instead clouts our jaws with a 1938 hurricane, a lot of our neighbors will be utterly helpless. They will call the government on their cell phones and then go back to bed. When they wake up and realize no help has arrived, someone will have to help them.

What are we to do? To a certain degree volunteers can be counted upon to step in as saviors even before the government bureaucrats show up for work, as happened when Harvey flooded Houston.  However beyond that certain point one cannot sit and think someone else will come to the rescue. At that time a person must discover an old fashioned thing called “self-reliance”. The question, looking at certain people, is: “Do they actually have any self-reliance? Or do they assume the mouse of a computer answers all problems?”