I feel like there should be some whacky music or pun-filled intro a la America's Funniest Videos, but we'll let this video just stand on its own.
One of the biggest weather events in years has been going on in relative anonymity over the past few days. Cyclone Felleng has been churning over the open waters of the Indian Ocean generating winds of up to 100 mph. Click here to learn more and see some dramatic satellite images of Felleng.
Courtesy Public domain photo by David Rydevik via WikimediaNatural disasters are a fact of nature, and natural disaster movies are a fact of the film industry. Whether it be volcanoes, errant asteroids, earthquakes, or something as far-fetched as the seeds of carnivorous plants riding to Earth on meteorites (one of my childhood favorites) - the genre has been a story staple since the early days of cinema.
This year's offering is The Impossible, a gut-wrenching movie that portrays the effects of the December 26, 2004 tsunami in Thailand. The main storyline centers on a family of five who struggles to survive and reconnect after a 9.3 earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggers a deadly tsunami that killed more than a quarter-million people. In the film, the family is English, but the screenplay was based on the actual ordeal of a Spanish family (you can read about them here but be aware that it could be a spoiler for watching the film).
Personally, I thought the film was really good and gave an incredibly realistic and fascinating depiction of what it must have been like to have experienced such a devastating natural disaster. The special effects were amazing and I'm very curious to find out just how they were done. Plus it got me interested in re-examining the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Courtesy NASAI'm always skeptical about storms that get a catchy nickname before they strike. The hype always seems to be more than the outcome. But Sandy (aka Frankenstorm) seems to be living up to her billing. After coming ashore the New Jersey/New York area early Monday evening, her path of destruction is wide and intense. As of noontime Tuesday, the fatality toll had risen to 33 people.
Here's a round up of news sources reporting the impact of this major storm.
Converging factors – A nice recap of the meteorological conditions that combined to make this storm so strong.
The pre-storm view from crew members aboard the International Space Station.
Slide show of photos from damage in the New York City area.
Slide show of photos of damage up and down the eastern seaboard.
Sandy vs. 'The Perfect Storm' – Minnesota-based meteorologist Paul Douglas offered this comparison between Sandy and the infamous "Perfect Storm" that struck in 1991:
In some ways, Sandy will be much like "The Perfect Storm" of 1991, when the remnants of Hurricane Grace interacted with a cold front that moved through the Northeast. As tropical system (strengthened by the warm ocean waters) merged with the cold front, it became more of an typical Mid-Latitude Cyclone (strengthened by the large temperature difference across the front). Interestingly, the center of the storm (minimum central pressure of 972mb) stayed off shore and caused massive damage (estimated to over 200 million dollars with 13 dead). This storm (hybrid Sandy) is expected to MAKE landfall; some models forecasting the central pressure down near 950mb, much lower than that of 1991. You can read more of his insights on Sandy here.
In Chicago today, big waves – Sandy's stretching into the midwest, picking up 20-foot waves on Lake Michigan in Chicago.
Expanded reporting of the final hours of the HMS Bounty – the replica of a historic tall ship which sank off the coast of North Carolina Monday.
Top 10 rejected storm names – and on a lighter note, Dave Letterman goes low-tech to share rejected names for this super storm.
This video was making the viral rounds over the weekend. I think it gives a better understanding about the energy waiting to be tapped from the wind. What do you think?
Check out some amazing footage of mud and debris flowing from nearby mountains during a heavy rainfall in the village of Virgen, Austria. What's cool is that the flows come in pulses, which I guess is typical of this kind of thing there.
I visited to Fort Collins to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CSU Department of Atmospheric Sciences. A great celebration and an opportunity to see colleagues I haven't seen in many years.
On Saturday I drove through a section of the Cache La Poudre River to see some of the burnt scares from the High Park fire. The fire started on June 9 by a lightning strike and burned across 87,284 acres by early July, taking 259 homes. One person has died in the fire. It is the second-largest fire in Colorado's history and has cost about $30 million to fight
Courtesy Steve Ackerman.
A recent rain washed the ash into the river, which now runs gun-powder black, as you can see in the photo. This is black color is consistent with the name Cache La Poudre. I have to wonder how this sediment will impact the fish in the water. This is an excellent river for trout.
Notice the burnt trees along the ridge line in the photo. Also notice the dead pine trees in the photo; a result of the pine beetle. The mountain pine beetles inhabit ponderosa, lodgepole, Scotch and limber pine trees and play an important role in the life of a forest. The black beetle attacks old or weakened trees which helps development of a younger forest. However, unusual hot, dry summers and mild winters have led to an epidemic. It would seem logical that these beetle damaged trees would increase fire risks as dead trees are flammable and likely to catch fire. But this might not be the case, indeed the dead trees may inhibit the spread of fires. The Yellowstone wildfire of 1988 provided forest ecologists with a method. Large crown fires can swept quickly through the forest spreading from tree tops. In the 1988 fire there were many trees killed and their needles burned off, but the standing dead tree trunks remained. New wildfires tend to slow and sometimes burn out when they reach standing dead forest. An interesting research topic!
The Denver Post website contains some tragic and spectacular photos of the wildfires blazing in the foothills west of Colorado Springs. Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated as whole neighborhoods are going up in flame, The wildfire doubled in size overnight and is now nearing Garden of the Gods. The park has closed until further notice.
I've been checking out some of the visual material taken of yesterday's massive flooding in Duluth and thought this one was pretty interesting. The video of the raging Miller Creek in Lincoln Park was taken while it was still raining and you see can visible change in the water level by the end of it.
Courtesy Mark RynThe recent floods in Duluth and other communities in northern Minnesota illustrate the incredible erosive power of running water. I was living in Duluth in 1972 when floods then ripped up the entire length of 6th Avenue East from top to bottom. This go-round appears to be even more devastating. I was particularly saddened to hear that the Swinging Bridge at Jay Cooke State Park has been destroyed by the force of the St. Louis River. The Lake Superior Zoo was inundated with water killing several of animals there. Several animals escaped, including the polar bear which was quickly tranquilized, recaptured, and sent to Como Zoo in St. Paul. One seal was more successful in its escape and made it out of the zoo compound to Grand Avenue where it stopped traffic. Recovery from all the damage is going take a while.