Friday, April 15, 2011

Skirting the Issue

The night before I caught myself talking back to the TV: “Hey, look at that!” Mixed in with weather reporter's usual, fast-paced, banter there was something interesting. With just a brief look at the animated doppler radar and animated visual satellite view from across the room, it was easy to see the classic counter-clockwise rotation of the low pressure system. The diameter of the low pressure circulation was so large it was easy to spot.

The early morning forecast the next day called for overcast skies, light rain, and occasional thunderstorms but the kitchen window view showed blue skies. For several days the forecasters had been having a hard time predicting exactly what the atmosphere was going to do next. With a lesson to teach in a few hours, digging deeper seemed prudent. The doppler radar painted some scattered precipitation and several nearby airports showed a similar disconnect between the forecast and reality. The lifted index chart and K index charts showed the atmosphere was pretty unstable and a couple of hours later the forecast thunderstorms began to materialize.

Weather theory may be boring to read, but actually seeing the atmosphere folding and unfolding can be fascinating, even awe-inspiring. A last-minute review of the weather radar showed that our proposed route out and back should be clear of the convective activity by several miles. The surface winds were strong and numerous lightning strikes were showing around the periphery of the storm.

Staying South and West of the action seemed to offer VFR conditions that were well clear of the serious action. Over the Pacific the skies were mostly clear, but to the East and Northeast, the atmosphere was boiling.

Westbound over Carquinez Straits

Heading Northwest, LUSEE inbound

Southeast bound view to the right

Southeast bound view to the left

Carquinez Straits, Eastbound

Back on terra firma with thunder and hailstorms moving closer ...

1 comment:

kt said...

Love the cloud photos! As a weather/aviation nerd, they're the most perfect pics ever.