“The waters rose and spread out over the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth…”~ Genesis 7:18a, CEB
An image of Noah’s ark came to mind while watching the 11 o’clock news last Thursday night. Thunder and lightning, including a few areas of localized flooding, occurred as a winter-type rainstorm moved through L.A. County. Perhaps a slow news night combined with a general excitement and hope for rain made for the exaggerated media hype. In actuality rainfall totals in said areas ranged from .20 to 1.00 inches. Located against the mountains as we are I was expecting higher totals for the Crescenta Valley. We added .55 inches bringing our season’s total up and over the 10 inch mark. Measuring at below half our normal amount, it was certainly a better outcome than anticipated.
Last week, Weather in the Foothills covered the earliest days and methods of predicting weather beginning with the observations made by our cave dwelling ancestors. Moving forward in time, methods of weather observation changed. Methods of predicting may have been more scientific, but were not necessarily more accurate.
During World War II, radar was invented to detect the proximity of enemy ships and aircraft. Its military significance was exceptional. Radar operators soon began to notice that rain would often obscure the aircraft. This led to using radar to detect storms, primarily ones that produced tornados. Their location and strength could now be determined.
By 1950 the unintentional discovery of problem rain in radar images became key in weather forecasting. Official “tornado watches” were enacted by the U.S. Weather Bureau and soon the NWS. In the 1990s, specialized radar entered the meteorology world – the Doppler Weather Radar. The motion of precipitation, clouds, storm cells, wind patterns and jet stream locations are made visible to all weather watchers – amateur and professional alike. The excitement of Dr. George Fischbeck and the Mega-Doppler are legendary.
NASA launched the first successful weather satellite in 1960, TIROS-1. It provided the first television image of Earth from space. The technology and use went far beyond all original expectations. At first, satellites were primarily for weather predicting. Now advanced capabilities allow for observing climate change, pollution, wildfires, snowfields, El Niño, drought and animal migrations. Many not listed are of equal importance, especially in monitoring climate and population change.
This is a most interesting May weather-wise. Two more low pressure systems move through today and Friday with temperatures below normal. In addition, the following are possible: areas of drizzle or light showers and snow showers in the mountains. A slight warming trend is predicted for the unofficial first day of summer –Memorial Day.
Just a touch of summer heat; more to follow…
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.