“Oh, give me a home…
Where the skies are not cloudy all day…
How often at night, the heavens are bright.
With the lights from the glittering stars…”
“My Western Home,” excerpts of poem by Brewster Higley, 1870s
Later became “Home On The Range”
While Boston lies buried beneath 65 inches of snow – one month’s accumulation – the Crescenta Valley basks beneath clear skies with a rain-season total of 7.44 inches. Upcoming days offer little change for either coast. More snowstorms are expected in the east and out west a chance for drizzle is it for the coming days. “Home on The Range” or “home in The Foothills” is this winter’s theme!
Weather here is beautiful, but a little dull; although in the scientific weather-world there is great excitement. A new tool is available to fine-tune weather forecast accuracy. On Jan. 31, NASA launched its Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), a satellite/observatory from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NASA’s JPL in Pasadena manages SMAP for the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. With a drop of irony, due to disturbances in the upper atmosphere (i.e. the weather), the launch was delayed by several days. Now underway and on its three-year mission, SMAP will orbit the earth from pole to pole every 98.5 minutes, repeating the same ground every eight days. Observations of the entire equatorial region take three days and the higher latitudes two days with the satellite’s 620-mile measurement swath. The words “soil” and “moisture” in SMAP are key in understanding its mission.
The new NASA satellite enables the most accurate imagery with the highest resolution to be obtained from space. Global maps will now display moisture content, be it thawed or frozen, in the top two inches of the earth’s soil. The following, from SMAP’s program director Christine Bonniksen, best describes the potentials gleaned from the study.
“Scientists and decision-makers around the world will be better equipped to understand how the Earth works as a system and how soil moisture impacts a myriad of human activities, from floods and drought to weather and crop yield forecasts.”
It seems help is on the way!
To summarize: The water content in soil affects weather and climate. Detailed study by SMAP may help scientists monitor droughts and predict floods. Information from soil and water data could also prove instrumental in determining crop yields and possible famines worldwide.
The NWS forecast is vague, to say the least. Mostly clear/partly clear skies are expected with an “80% chance of no rain” for the weekend and into next week. Temperatures remain mild, ranging between daytime highs around 70 and nights hovering close to 50 degrees.
Our beautiful weather brings “discouraging words” – no rain.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.