Tag Archives: National Weather Service

Lightning, thunder = excitement

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Bear with me as I write briefly about the weather.

My wife and I long have had a fascination with explosive weather. We got a first-hand look at just how explosive it can get when in 1984 we moved from the Pacific Northwest to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Beaumont proved to be a place where the lightning was extremely bright, was spectacular in its displays. The thunder it produced was noisy beyond belief.

And, oh yes, the rain comes in torrents, unlike in Oregon where it rains for three days before you even notice it.

Then we moved in 1995 to the Panhandle of Texas, the Caprock, along the Llano Estacado. They boast there about the lightning and thunder. To be honest, in our experience it didn’t measure up to what we saw and heard on the Gulf Coast.

We did experience a couple of baseball-size hail events that wrecked the roof of the house we built in Amarillo in late 1996. So, yes, we had our share of excitement.

Now we have settled in what they call North Texas, in Collin County, just NE of Dallas. It is storming as I write these few words. The intensity of the lighting and the accompanying thunder is beginning to remind us of our time in Beaumont.

It gives me a strangely pleasant diversion from the other things that usually occupy my time at the keyboard writing on this blog.

So my attention has been yanked away from the weirdness of the national and international news. I am fixated at the moment on Mother Nature’s sound and fury.

It will pass. Then I can think about the other matters that occupy my mind these days. Until then, I am going to stand in awe at the limitless power of our planet.

Power of prayer works again?

I never have been one to dismiss out of hand the power of prayer.

I pray all the time. I did so, along with millions of other Americans, that Hurricane Laura would spare our friends living in the Golden Triangle region in the southeast corner of Texas.

Guess what happened? Laura stormed ashore in Cameron, La., a good bit east of the Golden Triangle. I don’t wish bad things to happen to anyone caught in the middle of nature’s fury, and I have continued to offer prayer to those who were hammered by the Category 4 force of the killer storm.

The National Weather Service issued a most unusual warning prior to Laura reaching shore. The NWS said the storm would produce an “unsurvivable” surge of Gulf of Mexico water. Unsurvivable? Yep, that’s what they said.

Then I heard this morning that the storm surge wasn’t as monstrous as the NWS projected. Did the prayer work for those good folks, too? Well, suffice to say that the answer is one that cannot withstand empirical examination. You either believe it did … or you don’t. I choose to believe in the power of prayer.

Hey, I’ll take all the credit I deserve for that one. So should the rest of us. To be sure, there have been at least two fatalities reported in the past few hours, so the storm has inflicted terrible misery on the families and friends of at least two individuals.

I also should point out that the NWS wasted no time in retiring the name “Laura” from its roster of future storm names. The storm was strong and fearsome enough to join the ranks of Katrina, Rita, Ike, Maria and Harvey — among others — in the pantheon of retired storm names we’ll never see again during hurricane season.

Speaking on behalf of our friends in the Golden Triangle, I want to extend a heartfelt, sincere and profoundly authentic sigh of relief that they averted the worst of what Mother Nature can dish out.

Social media taking aim at POTUS

If the president of the United States were a normal human being, he would feel chastened by social media’s pillorying, pummeling and pounding of him over that ridiculous Sharpie illustration on a map depicting the destructive path of Hurricane Dorian.

The president made some idiotic assertion that Alabama stood in the path of Dorian’s force. The National Weather Service said “no,” the state wasn’t threatened. Trump then produced that map with the Sharpie outline that included Alabama.

What has been social media’s response? It has been vicious. Images of Trump have shown up with Sharpie-drawn six-pack abs, of him standing “taller” than President Obama, of first lady Melania Trump grinning over her affection for Kim Jong Un … among many others.

Trump, though, doesn’t seem to be bothered by any of this. At least not outwardly. He goes about doing whatever it is he does as if nothing is wrong, as if he has said not a damn thing that the rest of us find idiotic.

His “base” of supporters don’t care, either. They continue to glom on to this individual’s word as if it is gospel. Do they know he is lying? Do they care if they know it?

This is what we get with a rewritten political playbook. Trump has tossed all the normal metrics that used to offend many of us into the crapper. How has he done that? By appealing, I reckon, to the base instincts of many Americans.

Trump challenges the National Weather Service assertions that his statements about Alabama were incorrect? Who cares?

Well, I happen to care. So do other Americans.

Just say it, Mr. POTUS: Say you messed up; it’s easy to do

C’mon, Mr. President. Really and truly, it’s all right if you make a mistake. It’s OK if you misspeak.

Look, I am a severe critic of you and your presidency. I take a back seat to no one in that regard.

However, I would be more than happy to give you a pass if you were to say you messed up with that silly misstatement about Hurricane Dorian hitting Alabama. The National Weather Service — the experts on this stuff — said, um, “no” the storm would have no impact on ‘Bama.

Why, though, did you double down on that goof? You produced that phony storm-charting map with the Sharpie line crossing over Alabama.

Good grief, Mr. President. You are far from perfect. Indeed, in my view you are the farthest from perfect than any man who’s ever been elected to your high office. But, I digress.

The point here is that it’s all right for you to acknowledge you made a mistake. I do not understand why you just cannot do so. Not even on something as trivial as misstating that one of our states was in harm’s way. You made it even worse by providing that phony-baloney notion that the weather gurus had placed Alabama in Dorian’s path.

They didn’t!

Honest to goodness, Mr. President, saying you made a mistake is a sign of strength. Everyone makes ’em.

Even you.

It’s dark, drizzly, dreary … but our spirits shine brightly!

The temperature won’t rise much above 40 degrees Fahrenheit today.

The clouds won’t lift and the sun will set somewhere on the other side of them.

It’s been dark and drizzly all day.

And the spirits of Texas Panhandle residents haven’t been this bright and cheery since, oh, I don’t know when.

It hasn’t rained much today. I don’t know what the National Weather Service rain gauge will read at the end of the day. My wife, Toby the Puppy and I are living within spittin’ distance of the NWS station next to Rick Husband-Amarillo International Airport. That means whatever the NWS reports will mirror what we will have received at our RV park.

One of the local TV weather forecasters was described by his news anchor colleague as being “giddy” about the rain that has fallen over the region. Amarillo hasn’t yet gotten much of it; more rain is forecast during the night and again Wednesday morning and into the afternoon.

The irony is weird, man! Our spirits have soared as the sky has darkened, bringing badly needed moisture to a region that has been rain- and snow-starved during the entire winter of 2017-18.

Dare we expect to make up our precipitation deficit any time soon? Umm. No. We’ll simply accept what we get with extreme gratitude.

We’ve needed some reason to smile around here. The rain has delivered it.

We’re going to be talking about the weather

pampa twister

If we were suffering from “terrorism fatigue” in the Texas Panhandle, our attention has been diverted to concerns a lot closer to home.

A large tornado touched down in the Pampa area earlier this evening. It was a big, fast-moving storm that roared across the plains. At this moment, I don’t know about any casualties, nor do I know about the extent of damage. The weather tonight went bonkers! The picture that accompanies this blog post comes courtesy of Dennis Palmitier, a friend of mine who lives in Pampa; a storm chaser took the picture. It’s a bit grainy, but you get the idea of the size of this thing.

In our neighborhood in the far southwestern corner of Amarillo, we got pelted with a violent — but thankfully very brief — hailstorm.

But what we’re hearing from weather forecasters is that an event such as what we had tonight is rare for this time of year. The middle of November isn’t considered a “normal” time of the year to produce the kind of energy that produces these storms.

Still, these things can happen any time and usually without much warning. It’s all part of living here. Indeed, we often joke in the Panhandle about how quickly the weather can change … and it does — rapidly!

The National Weather Service did warn us about 24 hours ago that the weather could get a little dicey in the Texas Panhandle.

Well, it did.

And for the time being, it’s taken our minds — more or less — off the tragedy that played out in Paris.

 

Clouds = answered prayers

clouds

Those clouds over yonder — I’m quite sure — are the result of answered prayers.

I snapped this picture just a little while ago as I drove home from work. They’re to the southeast of Amarillo. They might be dumping some rain on Palo Duro Canyon.

The prayers? Well, I also am quite sure a lot of folks around here have lifted them up to the Almighty himself.

He listened and he answered them.

How do I know that? Well, I don’t. Faith in prayer allows us to just believe something happens for the better.

We’ve had a lot of things happening for the better around here all year long.

The National Weather Service says we’ve exceeded our annual average precipitation amount for the year, which is about 20 inches; it’s not even mid-July yet. Every drop we get from here until the end of the year is a bonus.

Why the dramatic change? Scientists contend El Nino is out there in the Pacific Ocean, producing warmer currents, resulting in greater storm frequency, which then blow inland — and over this part of the world.

That sounds good.

But what brought about El Nino? Might it have been, oh … some prayer?

We’ve had a lot of violent weather the past few days. The weather gurus are calling for more of it tonight. Our plays already are full. McDonald Lake, just about a mile north of our house, was in danger of spilling onto Coulter Street this morning.

Did prayer make all this happen? I’m not even going to try to disprove it. Because I cannot. Faith does not require proof.

Rain, rain, rain … and there's still a drought

Those of us who live on the Texas Tundra are enjoying the rain that’s pelting these parts.

We had more than an inch of it today, according to the National Weather Service office at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

This means we’re more than 2 inches over normal precipitation for the year to date.

Great news? Absolutely!

Is it a drought-buster? Hardly.

Can we predict what the weather will do for the rest of the year? We cannot predict for the rest of the week.

I stopped by Amarillo City Hall about a week ago and noticed the city’s “Every Drop Counts” water-use monitor over the first-floor elevator. The water use goal for that day was 48 million gallons; the actual use that day was 19 million gallons. Folks who normally water their lawns time of year didn’t turn the sprinklers on to irrigate their grass.

I reckon tomorrow’s water-use meter will register similar figures.

That, too, is great news.

I prefer to stay in water-conservation mode, no matter how much rain we get.

You see, it’s going to take a literal deluge to eradicate the drought threat that continues to draw down the water flowing through the Ogallala Aquifer, which gives our region its life.

The recent rainfall — and the prospect of more of it in the days and weeks ahead — gives City Hall, the water conservation districts, the counties and even the state a chance to remind us of what some of us sometimes forget when we get any significant moisture.

It’s that the drought hasn’t let up. The Texas drought remains a serious threat to our way of life — and even our lives.

 

If you don't like the weather …

“I cannot believe I’m getting cold.”

So said my wife just a little while ago as she plunged deeply into the back of her closet for her winter bathrobe. She had donned a lighter summer robe that had been moved to the front of her closet.

Why the change in wardrobe planning?

Well, those record highs the Texas Panhandle was experiencing a few days ago — when temps soared into the high 80s and low 90s — have now been overtaken by what’s forecast tonight as a possible record low.

We’re proud of the saying here on what I like to call the Texas Tundra: If you don’t like the weather, just wait 20 minutes, it’ll change.

OK, so the weather didn’t change in 20 minutes, but it surely has changed rather, um, dramatically just in the past few days.

Oh, have I mentioned that damn wind and the dirt it picks up as it roars in from almost any direction on our vast horizon?

The drought is projected to stay with us for a while. Some doom-and-gloomers think it will stay well past the foreseeable future. I have no clue as to when it will break. As of today, we’ve received a little more than an inch of rain all year recorded at the National Weather Service station at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. At this pace, we’ll finish the year with, oh, about 3 inches total.

The drastic change in temperature is quite another story. It’s approaching the middle of May, for crying out loud. Summer is just around the corner. The weather guys are calling for possible snow just a bit west of us in Union County, N.M.

Does any of this make you think of the issue that some folks seemingly refuse to accept as a reality? You know … climate change?

Bundle up, folks.

Spring is springing forth

The long, cold winter is about to end. Spring’s official arrival isn’t set for another week.

However, I need to share what I just witnessed on a walk through the neighborhood with my bride.

I witnessed the first signs of spring. They’re showing up in people’s lawns, on the trees that are beginning to bud, if ever so imperceptibly. I’m hearing more lawnmowers roaring. I’m seeing more people out walking — just like my wife and me — with their children in strollers or their puppies on leashes.

This truly is my favorite season of the year.

Other people tell me they love autumn the most. The summer gives way to the cooling breezes, the leaves turn colors and then they fall off the trees. That’s all fine.

The leaves also die. The trees grow dormant. The grass loses its luster and it, too, goes to sleep for the winter.

Me? I am a revival sort of fellow. I like the season where Mama Nature wakes everything up.

We’ve lived on the High Plains of Texas for slightly more than 19 years now and we’ve watched these cycles play out with each passing year. This year — or maybe it’s just my imagination — it seems the Texas Tundra became barren more quickly than in many previous years. I recall around early November driving past McDonald Lake at the corner of John Stiff Memorial Park just north of our home and noticing that the grass around the lake had gone from green to brown virtually overnight.

Then I noticed everyone’s yards had done the same thing.

The cold set in. It didn’t let up. We didn’t set any low-temperature records this year, but it surely seems as though the winter clamped its grip on us early and kept it there for what seemed like forever.

Snowfall? The National Weather Service said we’ve gotten 12 inches or so this winter, down a couple of inches from normal.

It’s been dry. And cold. For a long time.

It is now giving way to that time of renewal. I saw it this afternoon on a lovely walk through the ‘hood. I’m hoping, though, we avoid one of those late-season blue northers.

I am officially ready for spring. Bring it — and some drenching rain too.