Archive for Environment

Microburst Damage around Town

Broken Branches Uprooted Mesquite Tree

Damsel and I were out to do some shopping today and we saw some of the aftermath of the monsoon storm that hit our town last evening. According to reports, there were many more trees damaged or down in addition to the two shown above. Photos courtesy of Damsel.

The broken branch on the tree above left was adjacent to one of the town’s Historical Markers. Fortunately for the Little Red Schoolhouse, the tree branch fell away from the building. The uprooted mesquite tree above right was along the main road through town where we saw several other damaged and down trees and branches.

Much of the town suffered power loss and a couple of homes were evacuated due to poles or trees falling on them. Damsel and I were fortunate in that God spared us the microbursts that caused the major problems and our power was uninterrupted.

Our back retention walls continue to protect our little house from storms like the one last evening where three inches fell in an hour when the storm cell stalled right overhead. This was similar to, but not as intense as the storm that hit us on July 18 two years ago. This is the second storm this season to cause the little washes to dump flooding along the dirt road directly in front of our house.

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Grand Canyon Traffic Webcam

South Entrance Traffic Webcam

While browsing National Park Webcams, I found that the NPS at Grand Canyon had established a traffic webcam to evaluate arrivals at the park via the South Entrance on Arizona Route 64. Evidently, the NPS is concerned with the increase of traffic and visitation in not only Grand Canyon, but in other parks as well.

This is the blurb explaining the purpose of the experimental webcam:

We are testing a webcam to monitor the flow of vehicles entering the park at the South Entrance Station. Check the date and time in the lower right corner to make sure the image you are seeing is current.

Like other national parks, Grand Canyon has seen a dramatic increase in visitation over the last few years. The South Rim experiences crowded conditions during busy periods throughout the year, including spring break, summer, and holiday times during the fall and winter.

This experimental traffic count makes me wonder if NPS is considering a plan to require reservations to be made prior to entrance to the park. I can tell you from personal experience that the parks where we have recently visited can be overrun with people and vehicles.

At Grand Canyon last September, many of the turnouts for canyon overlooks had no parking spaces left for either autos or RVs. The main Village area was also very congested.

Click on the image to enlarge.

UPDATE: Out of curiosity, I looked at the South Entrance Webcam this morning (Saturday). My advice is to use the East Entrance on AZ 64 via US 89 at peak traffic times.

South Entrance Webcam

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Lenticular Clouds

Lenticular Clouds

As we were taking our evening stroll Damsel and I were watching the sky since there were still a few isolated thunder cells around us. There were a few raindrops falling from a small cloud overhead and a rainbow was partially visible almost straight up.

In the distance east of us (seen in the image), we observed a few lenticular (altocumulus lenticularis) clouds in the lee of the Bradshaw and Weaver mountain ranges to the north of us. The flow (as observed from our position on the ground and on radar on the computer) was from north to generally south.

We also observed what appeared to be some commercial air traffic being diverted from (my guess based on the direction of travel) Phoenix Sky Harbor to McCarran Las Vegas due to a large cell in the Phoenix Metro area. I feel for the crew and passengers on such flights for (a) the inconvenience of the diversion and (b) the turbulent ride they certainly would encounter under the observed conditions.

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Eastern Pacific Tropical Weather

TS Dora

A large part of the elements that contribute to our summer monsoons here in Sonoran Arizona is the influence of Eastern Pacific Ocean tropical activity. When storms form west of Mexico and move northwestward (as they usually do), they introduce a flow of tropical moist air across the southwest. The counter-clockwise circulation around the storms forces moist air northward in the lee of the storm’s movement.

Currently, Tropical Storm Dora, which is forecast to become a hurricane by tomorrow, is moving west-north westward into the Pacific Ocean. Dora, seen just to the north of the inter-tropical convergence zone (the horizontal string of clouds near the bottom of the image above), is already pumping large amounts of moisture across Honduras, the Yucatan and much of Southern Mexico. As the storm moves away from the land mass, it will probably start pumping some of that moisture northward.

In July of 2015, Tropical Storm Danielle was responsible for a northward flow of tropical moisture that resulted in a severe monsoon over our area that dropped over five inches of rain in less than two hours. The Casandro Dam catch basin filled to capacity, the washes and Hassayampa river were all in flood stage. Hopefully, Dora will drift westward and not be a problem for us.

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Summer Solstice

Solstice

Today marks the official first day of summer, although the summer weather starts sooner than that in Sonoran Arizona. We have been under the same heat wave as most of the west, except a tad warmer than a lot of places. Our temperature was 117° yesterday with cooler (only 114°) predicted for today. As a bonus, you can bank on the Greenbat Cultists calling that we are all gonna die and mankind is to blame. As DrJim points out, “we learned about this in school - it was called ’seasons.’”

Speaking of solstice, there is an interesting image on today’s APOD: a Solstice Sun Dial that spells out SOLSTICE only on this day.

The graphic above courtesy of Archaeoastronomy.com.

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Eclipse Animation

This nice animation of the August 21st Eclipse across America showed up on Astronomy Picture of the Day today. It is less than a minute in length and is a good graphic illustration of the path of totality.

The embedded video can be set to full screen for enlargement.

After the video finishes, there is another interesting video follow-up that animates the shadow of the moon as it crosses the country. You can see in detail where totality occurs with the shadow video.

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Countdown to the Great American Solar Eclipse

The countdown has been underway here for almost five years since we first made our reservations at the RV campground near the centerline of the eclipse in Wyoming. Now, however, we’re down to the last few weeks before the big event. The Javascript countdown timer above shows the remaining time to the start of the eclipse (first lunar encroachment) in Arizona Time.

The date of the eclipse is August 21, 2017. The beginning of the eclipse is dependent on the location of the observer, but in our case is 16:22:20 UTC, The seven hour difference has been adjusted in the timer. Totality follows a bit over an hour later. The interactive eclipse map has moved to the NASA Eclipse pages:

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/interactive_map/index.html

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