Ana May 10 local_radar1431250637364

One thing I like about the web is the ability it gives you to zip off to a webcam at a beach a thousand miles away, and see things for yourself.

As I write at 6:00 AM it is still dark down there, and the wind is blowing the wet flags off shore. It looks like a gloomy start to Mother’s Day, but not all that different to other rainy days I saw back in the early 1980’s, when I lived down there.

(I worked delivering furniture to brand new condos that were popping up like mushrooms. It was an interesting place to work, because everyone else was on vacation. Ever experience delivering a sleeper-sofa while a party is going on?)

The webcams from Kill Devil Hill and Whalehead Beach, up on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, show a relatively cloudless dawn twilight,  and modest onshore winds, so I guess they are not really feeling the tropical storm, though it may curve up the coast today and hit them with some thunderstorms tomorrow. Ana will weaken rapidly once its eye is over land.

The place to be is North Myrtle Beach, if you like a gusty rain.  They’ll be north of the eye, and getting onshore winds.

North Myrtle Beach is where I used to live, a couple blocks back from the beach, in a cottage dubbed “The Lazy Daisy”.  I recall that, out of force of habit, I put a garden in, in April, working bags of manure into soil that was basically pure sand. I kept hitting stray bricks, and when I asked an old-timer what brick structure had formerly stood where the The Lazy Daisy now stood, he said “Nothing. Those bricks are from a place around three blocks south of here. Hurricane Hazel flattened it and washed those bricks up here.”

I came back to check out the neighborhood after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. North Myrtle Beach was relatively unscathed. The real damage was south of Myrtle Beach. Every mile I drove south along the Grand Strand showed worse damage, until the entire shore-front block was shoved inland and jumbled into the cottages a block back from the beach. Down towards Murrell’s Inlet a bored looking National Gaurdsman told me I wasn’t allowed to drive further, (though I doubt I looked much like a looter), so I went on by foot.

What I liked best was the optimistic attitude of the locals. They were all looking forward to all the jobs with good pay that would be available, as everyone rebuilt.

The shore-front cottages had all been built on pilings twelve feet above the sand, and all that was left was the pilings, except for one, lone cottage, standing midst many pilings with its twisted, splintered, wooden staircase hanging down to air, ten feet up. That owner had built fourteen feet above the sand.  I’ve always wondered if people learned from that guy, and rebuilt atop fourteen feet pilings

What power Hugo had!  Ana is a mere breeze. However it made a pretty swirl, seen from outer space yesterday.

Ana May 9 vis0-lalo

Believe it or not, that organized swirl is a form of chaos. (Strange Attractors) That is something to ponder, before church on a Sunday. A snail is just another organized swirl that forms out of chaos.

A family also forms out of chaos, which is a marvel worthy of pondering about, on this Mother’s Day.


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It has always fascinated me how much warmer it is on the autumnal side of the Winter Solstice, and how much colder it is after the Solstice. I tend to look at the sun and say, “The sun is as low now as it is in X.”  I do this especially in the spring, when it seems the snow will never melt, but the sun is getting higher and more powerful.

After a quarter century of putting up with this sort of muttering, my wife now rolls her eyes, and occasionally asks me why I can’t enjoy the present without comparing it to something else.

However I can’t seem to help myself. Today I’ll look out across the nut-colored landscape of Oak Autumn, check my almanac, and say something like, “Today is ten and a half hours long, the same as it is on February 13, when the world would be white and all the ponds frozen.”  My wife might then ask me if I have so much free time I can check almanacs, and I will hurry off, because if I leak out that I have free time she might ask for help with some task. Even after a quarter century I haven’t taught that woman how to loaf, though I’m still working on it.

The dwindling sunshine hits home around Halloween. I think it spooks northern people and makes them a little crazy, which is why we have the strange holiday “Halloween” now. (The opposite craziness, in the Spring, is “April Fools Day”.)  In pagan times, in Ireland, people thought the spirits of the dead began to walk abroad in the early evenings, and hid indoors with an offering placed outside their front doors to placate the dead. If they did have to go out into the dusk they would disguise their identity by wearing a mask. St. Patrick apparently felt this was nonsense, and to show that Christians were not afraid he sent little children out in the dark to eat the offerings at other people’s porches. (I’m not exactly sure how the little children came to wear masks.)

Though New England gets much colder than Ireland, we are further south and our days don’t get as short, but it still is distressing how swiftly the sun gets wan and weak in October. The days are nearly an hour and a half shorter at the end of the month than they were at the start. The fiery brilliance of the sugar maple’s flaming foliage has given way to the muted browns of the oaks,  and the green cornstalks have turned brown and rustle crisply in the windy fields. The summer birds have all gone and the dawns are more silent, and alien birds from the north are passing through.

The drenching nor’easter we got at the end of last week is remembered, as the fallen leaves are still wet below the surface of their drifts and piles, despite dry northwest winds as the storm slowly moved off. The low, limping sun simply has lost its power to dry things.  I remember, from back in the days when I made a bundle of money by raking up other people’s leaves, that a fall rain made the job far heavier and harder. Leaves took a long time to dry, before the first snow, whereas they dried swiftly after the last snow melted, because the sun is so much higher, and the days are three hours longer, in April.

Even as a strong young man this might have given me a reason to loaf, but with five kids I needed the money, and therefore raked leaves in the fall. Now I do have a reason to loaf, for I don’t get paid a cent for raking my own leaves, however my wife seems to think leaves look bad. I think they look lovely, and in any case, they’ll soon be hidden by snow.  (I don’t much care about the grass being killed beneath the leaves, for my dog has done a pretty good job of killing it already.)  However females seem to judge the character of a man by the color of his lawn, so I’ll likely get started raking the lawn, any day now….unless we get an early snow. There is always hope.

The problem with an early snow involves our pigs. I don’t have winter quarters for them, and snow and cold means that a lot that goes into feeding them goes into keeping their body heat hot. After all, they are pink things running about stark naked. Therefore I’d best get them to market. I’d do it, but I have to rake leaves. However I have trouble raking leaves when I’m so worried about those poor pigs. (“There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…”)

The above map shows the last storm leaving, but a new storm coming. We were suppose to get a nice, mild spell, according to the forecasts based on computer models, but once again Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo said otherwise on their blogs at Weatherbell, and once again they have beat the world’s biggest computers with mere brains. Brains may not be able to beat computers at chess, but brains do much better than computers playing the game of chaos, which is what weather and humanity amount to.

The computers now show the low crossing the Great Lakes will dig in and deepen, as it arrives at the Atlantic. What is left of Hurricane Ana, a mere impulse barely able to dent the isobars as it penetrates high pressure crossing the Rockies, will dive southeast and add energy to the east coast trough, and another nor’easter will form this Saturday. It may suck enough cold air down behind it to create some snow.

Sigh. I was planning to avoid telling my wife about this forecast, but the blasted, tweeting, newfangled Facebook alerted her. Now I’ll have to both rake leaves and get pigs to the market. It’s either that, or go out and purchase a good Halloween mask.

Bears have it better. They hibernate.



Hurricane Ana to strike Pacific Northwest?

On his excellent blog at Weatherbell, Joe Bastardi pointed out that Hurricane Ana, which cut to the west of Hawaii, could curve northwest and then travel west to hit the Pacific coast of Oregon.   The models are now showing the possibility of such a track.

Anna 2 gefs_CP02_current(1)

Though it is rare for hurricanes to become entrained in Pacific gales in such a manner, Joe pointed out that way back in 1962 Hurricane Freda took such a route.  He included screen-shots of model’s maps that made Ana’s position on the 28th create a map very much like Freda’s in 1962.

Anna 1 Screen_shot_2014_10_22_at_1_35_59_PM  (Joe posts between two and six times a day, and I highly recommend his site.)

The 1962 storm was so wild it resulted in a considerable blow-down of giant trees. Considering I was just walking through amazing glades of Redwoods and Sequoia only two weeks ago, I am hoping the storm falls apart.

The defense those trees have used for centuries, (surviving two thousand years worth of storms in some cases,) is to interlock their roots. The problem is that in many case the nearby trees were “thinned” by lumbermen, back when the supply of such trees seemed limitless. Therefore the roots no longer interlock with neighbors as much or as well. They are less able to withstand high winds.

I hope they don’t need to face high winds for another fifty years, so they can grow more roots and interlock with new neighbors. The inspire such awe that people become quiet and walk softly when in a grove.  Even loudmouths like me are hushed by them. I sure would hate to see anything happen to them, though what a noise they must make when they fall!


Ana is currently forecast to head further north and to hit the northern tip of Vancouver Island at 0000z on October 29, with steady tropical force winds of 51 mph, and much higher gusts.

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Those folk up there get winter gales stronger than that.

The question remains: how much of that wind and rain will get south to California? (The rain this weekend is not associated with Ana, though it is part of the “moisture stream” that will carry Ana east.)  Saturday looks rainiest.

California drought 1 map_specnews17_ltst_4namus_enus_320x180