Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Menacing Tides   Leave a comment

A recent New York Times article discusses how theories first put forth in science fiction might provide a few insights on how to curb global warming. Despite the naysayers and deniers, with each passing Storm of the Century and inundating flood, it’s become obvious that nature is retaliating against mankind’s environmental unfriendly ways.

As one who’s spent her lifetime at the New Jersey coast, I’ve witnessed the rising seas. It’s subtle, at first. As a kid in the second half of the last century, I roamed the wide beaches, chasing seagulls and digging up clams. Our beach’s jetty stretched far out into the waves, ending in a massive pile of black mussel-covered rocks. During low tide, I could walk out behind those rocks. Even after a destructive hurricane, the beach might have been ravaged, but there was plenty of sand to place a blanket and enjoy the rough surf.

Occasionally, during a pounding thunderstorm or unusually high tide, water would back up by the storm drains. We’d use these as excuses to splash around, jumping off the curb and into the puddles. Nor’easters and hurricanes flooded the roadway and sometimes the garage, but usually the water went down fairly quickly. But as the century advanced, the beach retreated.

Skip to today. Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc with the island I grew up on and wiped out the beach, taking with it a few houses built on dunes that shouldn’t have been placed there. Surprising? Shocking? Well, yes, but no. Over the years, I’ve watched the shore disappear, growing shorter and shorter with each tide. That jetty and rocks that provided hours of entertainment buried itself under the sand. The streets flooded and became impassible with every rainstorm and high tide. One nearby restaurant posted a sign, “Occasional Waterfront Dining” because the street in front of it developed a sizable pond twice a day, as water backed up from the storm drain each high tide. That’s also how we knew the tide came in without ever going up to the beach.

It only gets worse with each storm. A major rebuilding of the beach, including jetty removal and berm construction, will only temporarily halt the rising seas. In the past, though storms took away the sand, in time the ocean swept it back towards the beach. That natural flow has ceased. Now, outraged citizens demand that something be done to halt nature. Little do they realize that’s impossible.

What’s even more fantastical about all this is the utter denial about what’s really happening. More and more houses are going up on this island without regard to the slow destructive forces overtaking it. Those looking for a place to relax during summer weekends and perhaps a nice place to stay over the off-season holidays refuse to acknowledge, or even notice, what’s going down. “It’s so beautiful,” says many a shoregoer. And yes, I’d agree. But not for much longer.

Sometimes it seems as if I’m part of a “Twilight Zone” episode, where a concerned citizen shouts to the crowd about the impending danger awaiting them, only to be at first ignored and then vindicated. Building houses on the coast will not stop anytime soon.

Neither will the rising seas.


Posted April 8, 2017 by seleneymoon in Nature, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Weather, Writing

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Of Folklore and Science   Leave a comment

Out on a limb, barely hanging on

February 2 is a big day for a small creature.  Lots of pressure rests upon the back of the above pictured groundhog.  And yes, while he’s enjoying the lovely spring weather in the tree in our backyard, a lot depends upon his interpretation of when that season arrives.

Since it’s really not fair to pin the entire nation’s forecast on one groundhog, many locations throughout the United States and Canada have their own local weather hog.  Their names usually reflect their hometowns, such as Punxutawney Phil (from Punxutawney, PA, where the movie Groundhog Day was set), or Staten Island Chuck (from Staten Island, NY), Balzac Billy (from Balzac, Alberta), Queen Charlotte (from Charlotte, NC) or Winnipeg Willow (from Winnipeg, Manitoba).

If it’s a cloudy day and the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, it’s an early spring.  Should that sun be blazing away in the sky, well, that’s enough to discourage any groundhog from enjoying the weather and so our rotund rodent friend retreats to the burrow.  Counterintuitive?  Yeah, I think so.  I mean, why would anyone beat a quick exit from the sun unless they forgot their sunscreen?

Since I’m in the Hudson Valley, I generally take my predictions from Staten Island Chuck.  I seem to remember there being a closer chuck, but I didn’t happen to hear what his prediction might be for spring, so I’m sticking with SIC.  Seems that he called for an early spring and went back inside.  Or maybe he was a bit reticent in making any sort of prediction.  You see, last year New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio was invited to participate in the ceremony and held up the woodchuck/groundhog for the first time.  Upon holding said animal, it wriggled from his grasp, fell, and died a few weeks later.  This year?  Bill watched.

But really, I’d have to say I agree with what SIC predicted.  It seems like we’re on a Monday snowstorm schedule.  For the past few weeks, we’ve had snow, and just enough to close the schools and prevent me and Andrew from driving to work (but not from our desks at home).  It refuses to snow on the weekends, or if it does, it’s on Sunday evening when we’re attentively watching Downton Abbey.  The last thing I’m wondering is how I’m going to get to work, it’s how anyone finds Mary so fascinating when she’s got to be the least passionate, sex-craving person on the planet, and yet she attracts men in droves (it’s the money, surely).

I digress.

There is no weather science behind the groundhog, nor do they receive any special instruction from their elders that bestows upon them all the magical powers they’ll need to tell us to go get more salt for the driveway and gas for the snowblower.  It all came from a European tradition involving a badger.  Pennsylvania Germans began their tradition here in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with the first recorded prediction noted in 1841 from Morgantown, PA (he didn’t say what the groundhog thought about the weather, but I’m sure it wasn’t positive).

As far as I can tell, I’ve not seen any official recognition by the National Weather Service regarding the predictions of any of this nation’s groundhog prognosticating teams.  Given the nature of some of their recent predictions, however, one might think they’ve consulted Staten Island Chuck to see what his take on those clouds moving in from the south and east mean.

I’m going with SIC’s prediction for now: six more weeks.  After all, we’re expecting 6-12 inches come Sunday into Tuesday.





Forces of Nature   Leave a comment

It’s November here in the United States, specifically in New York State.  Nothing’s weirder here than the weather this time of year.  I’d like to illustrate this point with the following picture:


Snow 11-14-14 a

This was my house last Friday.  On first glance, it would appear to be a pleasant scene, just a hint of snow to make things pretty.  Upon further inspection, however, the Japanese maple wasn’t through with its leaves.  Sure, there’s a neat circle of leaves on top of the snow, creating an artistic touch, but honestly, if the tree had its way, it’d rather let this season pass without having to worry about the next one butting in.  “Say, wait,” the Japanese maple thinks, “this is my season – fall – and I’m not finished dumping my leaves just yet.  Winter, BACK OFF!”

Yesterday, I arrived at work.  My place of employment is next to a river that cuts through a mountain ridge.  It’s my practice to check out the river after I park my car.  It’s pretty, so it gives me a positive note upon which to begin my day.  This is what I saw:

Icy River 11-19-14

At first glance, I’m thinking this is kind of weird.  Is this an alien message?  Not quite a corn crop circle, but indeed some sort of symbol.  Check it out: it’s a clearly-defined crescent, or even a “C”.  Could it even be some sort of map?  Within the shape, there’s a few distinct islands floating.  Maybe this is a harbor or a bay, and those little shapes floating within could depict landing places, or locals/islands where pickup/dropoffs are designated.  Or perhaps someone/thing with a name beginning with “C” is supposed to do a task?  Could this be a sign from up and out there, calling for immediate response?

Sure, the rational part of me’s thinking it’s just an eddy and that’s how the water’s flowing as it slowly freezes.  But one never knows the messages lying beneath the forces of nature…


Snow 14-14-c


Radically-Charged Cloud Bank   Leave a comment

Cloud 2

Credit: Gretchen Weerheim’s fabulous iPhone, now obsolete as of last week

Just had to show off this spectacular picture of high altitude clouds that I caught on the way to work the other day.  I live in an area where there are lots of mountains (not very big ones, but respectable in height) and I have to drive over a ridge.  I noticed these clouds as I passed near to that ridge and when I got to the top, I pulled the car over and snapped a few.

If you enlarge it, you will see details of the waves of clouds spinning off little wisps.  There was a great deal of turbulence in the upper atmosphere, causing the wave pattern.  These are cirrostratus clouds and a weather front was approaching, but the high winds coupled with updraft over mountains added to the instability.  It’s almost as if some kind of radical charge was buzzing the cloud bank, making them spike up as they swirled.

Regardless, it was lovely to see.  Enjoy!


Posted September 18, 2014 by seleneymoon in Nature, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Weather

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