Saturday, August 04, 2007

Air Signs

Being a Gemini helps, I guess, being an air sign. I love watching the clouds especially in the summer, especially if they form thunderheads like this one off Boca Chica, the shoreline between South Padre Island and the Rio Grande at Mexico. Nothing dramatic as you can see, but there was an anvil and some heavy rain to the south – we got a few drops here. Summer sea-breeze showers are notoriously short-lived and local.

But to me it is power. The amount of energy expended in a 15-minute thunderstorm burst could well be similar to a nuclear bomb. Can you imagine is we could harvest that power, including the static electricity that causes the lightning? Did you know that lightning can heat the air into a state called “plasma” which is as hot as the sun? Anyway, that hot, expanding plasma is what makes the sound of thunder.

No water spouts today, which I’ve rarely seen here but more common in Florida and the Bahamas. One thunderhead blossomed over the mainland, possibly Los Fresnos, and became a meso-cumulus storm, or MCS. That means it has lots of big 15-minute storms that converged into one very large party animal. At least there’s some drama, as this time of year we should be hot, dry, and no clouds at all.

Have you’ve visited our island very much? You might have noticed that storms form off the coast, jump right over the island without raining more than ten drops, and then go “kaboom” once one the mainland. I don’t have all the answers but I can say I talked with some ozone modelers up in Austin who said that inland bay systems such as Laguna Madre are quite complex, and can have a profound effect on the weather. Of course, they lost me when they talked about micro-climate stability index, flow reversal, salinity, and the Ricardo Effect.

Hey, I’m just a silly old air sign!


Anonymous said...

Ahh, Sammie. Nice post. I think you present an SPI version of what the 18th and 19th century philosophers called the "sublime."

I have been reading the other SPI forum on politics these last few days, as you know, and your post jerks my few remaining mental synapses "from the ridiculous to . . . , "as Napolean,or somebody, said.

Still, speaking of the "Ricardo effect," someday when you and I have a beer or two together, you "got some splainin' to do."

Will Davis

Everett said...

Hey Sam, It must be that those clouds have some magical effect on our "sunapses"! I am constantly getting my 9 thru 12 year old grandkids to lay on a blanket out in the back yard and watching those big old puffy clouds as they drift by. Then we try to pick out shapes of animals fish etc. from the ever changing canvas! It is really great when one of them 'discovers' a really obvious shape. Back when we were kids, this is what we did for entertainment on hot summer days. No TV back then you understand.
We sit out here on the Island and listen to the weather guessers tell us to be ready for T showers etc., and they we watch as they roll up the coast from NY to Boston without ever shedding a drop of H2O on us! Happens all the time. We are really having a dry summer here and the grass is all brown. YEAH! mow the weed parts every other week now. I love that part. TIFN

Sam said...

Hey Will, I'd love to take you up on your offer. Remember, there is Key Lime Pie and "sub-lime." Haha.

Everett, I had no idea you were so dry - Texas has been wet as a duck this year. Weren't you guys just pumping down freshwater lakes last winter? But I do remember watching those thunderstorms move up the coast from Block Island, with spectacular light shows.

I feel a good blog coming on about "infrastructure" since the bridge in Minneapolis went down. It's not political because everyone missed the boat on that one, yet "pork" is more massive than ever. /Sam