September 21, 2015 at 1:01 pm #43943
We had a light frost last night. The forecast for the nearby town (7 miles) was for it to go down to 42. We’re usually a couple degrees colder than there so I’m thinking maybe it’ll come down to high 30’s. The thermometer on the side of my garage was reading about 40 this morning, though I know it is going to read a little higher than out in the open given it receives some residual warmth from the garage itself. Another piece that most of us forget is that thermometers 4 to 6 ft above ground are going to record higher temperatures than what is happening at ground level, especially in valleys when there isn’t any wind.
It occurs to me that those of us in northern climates at least will need to get a whole lot better at predicting frosts in particular but weather in general come SHTF and weather forecasts are no longer being broadcast to us 24/7. Our forebears knew far more in this regard than we do. This morning’s frost probably was predictable if I had been paying more attention last night. Clear sky, no wind, being in the valley, it being Sept. 20th, and the forecast being around 40. The 1st frost here can come anytime after Sep. 16th and on average comes about Sept. 28 so we were right in the range. On average the last frost is May 13th and typically doesn’t come after May 28th, yet this year we had a last frost about June 7th if I recall, which means norms can be exceeded on occasion.
If anyone knows of a good reference book for predicting weather it might be good to have.September 21, 2015 at 2:29 pm #43946
Great topic MB. I don’t have any great recommendations though. I did a google search and found several that do sound good with nice titles. But I’m to skeptical to believe a book is going to help much. Even with the current technologies of radar, satellites with multiple sensor arrays, and instant communications meteorologists still have difficulty being accurate. I think historical data like you quoted will end up being the most trust worthy long term predictor.
Well here’s one that sounds good: http://www.weathergraphics.com/redbook/September 22, 2015 at 12:32 am #43953
In Maine , the most important guy on TV is the weatherman , they are pretty darn accurate .September 22, 2015 at 1:47 am #43954
Tolik, I lived in Maine, there is no place that forecasting the weather could be easier. 9 months of winter and 3 months of poor sledding. There’s cold, colder, and colder yet. Summer is rain or rain with fogSeptember 22, 2015 at 2:14 am #43956
As a former Air Force pilot, we had to learn to do a lot of our own forecasting, and had fairly significant formal training in meteorology, forecasting, etc. We STILL had to have access to weather maps, locations of fronts, high and low pressure centers, temperatures, pressure gradients, winds aloft (particularly location of jet streams, etc.) in order to do it, but forecasters weren’t available at every destination, or at least at the times we’d arrive or depart. Still, we had old technology readouts on thermal paper from little machines that could give us limited semi-current information about destinations, points along the way, etc. – sometimes. (Computers and the internet?!? What was THAT?)
Unfortunately, if we end up in severe SHTF, those things may not be available to us at all, and we’d need to rely on some of the very ancient methods of “reading” the weather. Though probably largely lost by many, Native Americans (and similar more ancient cultures around the world) were pretty good at that. Perhaps there’s some learning from that quarter. But I suspect we need to be cautious and become much more aware about protection against frost/freezing, as well as drought, than many of us currently are. I doubt that modern scientific books can help us much. The ancients got pretty darned good at reading the signs of approaching fronts, storms, etc. – we’ll need to be able to do the same. I’m exceptionally grateful for my education in how weather works, and just hope it will be of any practical use if I need to call upon it in the future – without the aid of satellite imagery, computer graphics, etc. Excellent question!September 22, 2015 at 3:26 am #43962
GSA, that’s what I’m talking about, a non-technology (other than thermometers and barometers that any of us can have) based understanding of what weather might be headed our way. Just a century ago people knew much more than we know now.
74, but with predictable weather like that in Maine, folks don’t have to think about what they’re going to wear. Shorts year round will do. You have to be tough in the north country.September 22, 2015 at 5:30 am #43964
Upper level low straight across the NE with a deep swing to the south for the jet stream. Ah ok, it’s 42 or 38. Don’t really care. I turned on the heat today. Also topped off my oil tank. I wonder if these oil prices will last. Kero still very high. We could have an early snow from this weather pattern. In 93 on this date it was 28 here. Unusually cold.September 22, 2015 at 11:57 am #43966
Brulen, if the longer term trend is towards colder weather, early snows would be very problematic if the trees didn’t adjust and drop their leaves earlier. As I am sure you have experienced, snow before the leaves are all down makes for one heck of a mess with downed power lines, blocked roads and such. A few years ago we had an early snow in Oct. that did just that.September 22, 2015 at 12:16 pm #43968
other than thermometers and barometers that any of us can have
I should have mentioned that those two (particularly the barometer) could be very useful in the overall prediction process. An interesting exercise that would only take a couple of minutes every few days would be to go to Weather Underground (scary name for some of us old enough to remember, though I’ve been assured there’s no relationship to the original organization by that name). At the upper right, enter your zip code (if US) in the “Location” box and hit [Enter].
What comes up at the top is current conditions. Below that is the 10-day forecast. It not selected automatically, click the “Graph” tab (not the “Table” or “Descriptive” tab). Then notice what happens with temperatures, wind directions, barometric pressure, general weather (cloudy, sunny, etc.) as well as precipitation probabilities and amounts. After a while, you’ll begin to notice patterns. Wind direction and barometric pressure tend to be leading indicators of changes coming. If pressure is trending down (more than just the intra-day changes), you’ll notice that weather also tends to deteriorate shortly thereafter. In most areas, when there’s a distinct wind shift to where it’s coming from the 270-360° quadrant, or directly from the west up through directly from the north, you’ll tend to see clearing with colder temperatures almost immediately thereafter. Yet depending on where one is situated, just a few more degrees around the compass (i.e. wind out of the northeast), with dropping barometric pressure, that could spell considerable trouble (the famed “nor’easters” of the US east coast, for example). When winds trend out of the south and southeast in the US, and in some areas out of the southwest, moisture is generally being pulled into the area, with increases in cloudiness.
Those are all generalizations, but there are patterns that can be quite helpful. Clouds types can also be quite instructive, sometimes. We had a tornado siren go off in our area a few years ago, and I was shocked! I went outside, took a look around, noticed the types and extent of the clouds, and called “BS” on it immediately. I then came in and looked at the computer radar on Weather Underground (I particularly like the “Nexrad” radar at the top right of their local screens), and confirmed what I already “knew” – there wasn’t even a chance of a tornado in the area! Some idiot saw a very localized but heavy rain shower coming out the bottom of a small buildup (cloud formation that didn’t go particularly high), and by contrast with the surrounding blue skies, that heavy but localized downpour was dark grey. The uninformed do-good citizen called in a tornado on the ground report to our local emergency management office, and without bothering to check it out, they put out the tornado warning! (Or maybe they did “check it out” by looking out the window and seeing the same “tornado” – hah hah!) Sometimes idiocy known no bounds. There wasn’t even a chance of a thunderstorm that day, let alone one near enough to being capable of producing a tornado. But the “experts” in the area didn’t have any idea what they were talking about, and didn’t bother to check with the TV station meteorologists first before screaming “TORNADO” all through the area (and probably scaring a few little old ladies and school principals half to death). It was hilarious, just because of the idiocy of the “experts.”
On the contrary however, when you see very, very large buildups off in the distance, with what’s sometimes known as an “anvil” shaped extension at the top sticking off in one direction, that’s a mature thunderstorm, and out of that anvil can be coming hail, with the hail falling out in an area NOT in the middle of the storm activity on the ground. Pilots know not to fly in the nice pretty clear area just below an anvil, or they can be pelted with hail that is being spewed out the anvil. And note that we get to see tornadoes quite clearly on video, because they’re not embedded right in the middle of a storm, which would obscure the outline of the tornado. Instead, they tend to be on the edges of large storms, and therefore visible (if daylight of course).
So, there are some things that can be learned at least in the way of patterns to look for. If you don’t have a barometer, you might consider getting one – and watching it. Notice the patterns that develop following trending changes in the pressure readings, and practice on the Weather Underground “Graph” display 10 days out in the future. That could at least help you predict when serious weather might be coming, or significant temperature changes, etc. If you’re already within (or even near) the first frost date, for example, and the barometric pressure is really trending up, and the wind shifts distinctly to the northwest with a fair amount of speed, you might want to cover your plants that night if possible. No guarantees, but certainly worthy of consideration.
Hope that helps.September 22, 2015 at 12:27 pm #43969
A few years ago we had an early snow in Oct. that did just that.
MB, I know some people in Buffalo that had seriously bad experiences, probably with that same storm you’re talking about. In one case I personally know about, power was out at least a week, the family was totally unprepared, the basement filled up with about a foot of water, and of course the sump pump couldn’t work. Bad, bad news! (A whole lot of stuff all over the floor of the large basement was ruined, including upholstered furniture, multiple sets of golf clubs, personal memories, etc. – all ruined. It didn’t do wonders for the washer and dryer motors either.)
That home now has one of those automatic generator units outside that will power the house – a nice “knee jerk” reaction after the fact. And they didn’t have much food to eat either, after what was in the freezer and refrigerator had warmed up within a day. Plus, they had no way to cook anything. Weather can be a harsh (and expensive) teacher! As one well-known YouTube “prepper” says in all his videos, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”September 22, 2015 at 12:53 pm #43972
It probably was the same storm. We lost power for 3 days at our home in MA and it gave me a good test run of a small wood stove that I had installed in the basement a year or so prior. It was a cooktop unit and I was able to cook simple foods on it OK. The real intent of the woodstove was so as to send some heat up the center stairwell, keeping the pipes from freezing. After that storm it wasn’t all that cold (30’s/40’s) and so the pipes weren’t in imminent danger but I could see that the stairwell “chimney” was adding some heat to the upstairs and at the same time the basement was plenty warm to wait out the return of electricity. I had a heck of a mess in the yard though. I spent a whole day hauling 14 pickup truck loads of limbs to the dump and then had to hire a professional the following year (when I could find someone…they all had more business than they could handle) to finish the higher up stuff I couldn’t get to and to take down one tree altogether that was too badly damaged.September 22, 2015 at 1:45 pm #43975
74 , I also lived in Maine , southern part around Biddeford/Portland , I would still take Maine over Minnesota or Michigan , thats much worse . Still better than the Southwest , hot , hotter , and even hotter , with land that cant support a jack rabbit , that is truly a place unfit for human habitation . I can tell you first hand that its far easier to keep warm than cool off , then there is the lack of water problem . AZ/NM are the worst , no pride in workmanship in the trades , high crime rates , everybody is a drifter or transplant , lot of f*cked up people . The AZ state motto should be
” Land of liberty and low standards ” , if it was not for federal building codes , they would not have any standards at all , that why California contractors love doing work there , anything goes , crap that wouldnt fly in their own state and most others .September 22, 2015 at 2:05 pm #43976
I love Maine, and lived farther downeast. I’m just funning you. But I don’t intend to go through those winters again.September 22, 2015 at 8:23 pm #43986
I’ve said it before, but if I didn’t live in VT I’d want to live in Maine. To me the climate is just fine, a little chilly at times, but not so bad. Tolik, years ago we would go to the beach at Biddeford Pool. We had friends that lived in the area. If Maine were able to block I95 and Rt 1 to stop the volume of folks fleeing Metro Boston, Maine could do quite well post-SHTF.September 23, 2015 at 12:23 am #43993
74 , I hear ya , I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum , I dont want to be hot or se direct sun ever again .
MountainBiker , blocking roads and blowing bridges is an easy matter , all those tall trees can make a good roadblock …………………with a few snipers to deter the riff raff , Dont always have to kill em , most will turn tail at a few close misses .
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