The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
-Psalm 19:1

Do you know that God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?
-Job 37:15



Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Nope. not a hurricane gone ashore... it's a Mesoscale Convective Vortex

After a couple of "nasty" (frankly, I thought they were pretty cool) thunderstorms over the last couple of days in the Valdosta and Tallahassee areas, we had/still sort of have a really cool feature that was/is visible on satellite.

Looks oddly like a small hurricane with a nice tight eye gone ashore, right?  Well, it's not Hurricane Edouard or any sort of tropical cyclone, even.  It's a low pressure center within a mesoscale convective system, referred to as a mesoscale convective vortex (MCV). It's a rather pretty one, if you ask me.
 A mesoscale convective vortex (MCV) is a low-pressure center within an mesoscale convective system (MCS) that pulls winds into a circling pattern, or vortex. An MCV can take on a life of its own, persisting for up to 12 hours after its parent MCS has dissipated. This orphaned MCV will sometimes then become the seed of the next thunderstorm outbreak.  Wikipedia
In our case, the MCV is already losing much of it's structure, but it still has a swath of bands rotating around a less tightly compacted center, especially when you compare it with the deluge of storms over eastern Mexico as the remnants of Tropical Storm Dolly make their way inland and work at dissipating.  We would look to a MCV area for upcoming thunderstorm development, similar to how we would expect thunderstorms with any other low pressure system.

Thanks to my friend at the NWS for bringing the feature to my attention.  Cool stuff.

 Until next time,
~Dewdrop

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Oops, I did it again...

Last night was quite a night for thunderstorm activity.  We had a storm pulse up suddenly to our east and actually move over our house.  Frequent cloud to cloud and cloud to ground lightning was popping all around us.  As the storm moved to our west, it really got inflamed, and the lightning became constant. Suddenly, another cell initiated to our east, so we literally had it popping on either side of us.

With the frequency, I couldn't help but try my hand at shooting some.... yes, again.  Realize that I do not have many good angles from my house.  There is the west view, which has a line of VERY TALL trees about 100 yards in front of us.  There is the north view with yet another line of very tall trees about the same distance away.  The east view, where our shed and the neighbors house block my view and trees beyond that and then finally, the south view... house, tree.  It's a storm chasers nightmare of home placement.  Oh, how I would love to live on an open field with a wonderful view of all angles. 

Clearly, I am not geographically placed well for shooting lightning from the abode, and until I really nail down my technique and get a remote for shooting, I am not venturing out to a field like some chasers I know (who get great shots, by the way).  I am just not there yet. 

As the storm was east, I scurried into my sunroom to shoot from there... through the opened screen door, which kept slamming shut on me, and the rain was pouring in and covering my camera... no good.  As it moved west, I chased it to the front porch, but I couldn't really get any good bolts... the storm was immediately overhead and most was cloud to cloud lightning at this point. 

When thunder roars, go indoors.  

So... I went into my garage for the more open northward view.  Technically, I was indoors... with a really large door open right beside me.  I didn't get any shots and the storm had moved further west, so back to the porch I trudged. AND, I got one!!

He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark. Job 36:32
I love the detail of this CG lightning strike.  I love how it webs out.  This photograph is untouched (hence the water droplets on the lens).  The corner is the edge of my front porch.  The view is to the southwest, where a local said they heard a thunderclap so loud that they thought their windows would burst.  As far as technique, I am still not where I want to be with my lightning photography, but I think that will require me stepping out into some scenery and getting away from the trees.

Until next time,
~Dewdrop

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A little night magic...

It's been a while since I have stood outside in a thunderstorm (I don't recommend you doing this!!! When thunder roars, go indoors!) to shoot lightning, but hubby suggested it tonight when it seemed like it was popping every second. Of course, when I got out there, Dewvoid kicked in and things started to pulse down... typical. I was, however, able to nab a couple of decent shots before it completely fizzled out.

You see, back on the 4th of July, I was inspired to start playing with the settings on my camera, and there we were with 10 boxes of sparklers and my camera and well... we got creative. I figured out how to get my shutter to work to my advantage. It was such a fun time, and I felt so completely inspired.  It was so much fun!

I really haven't been all that inspired to shoot weather since I haven't been on this blog. On my paying gig, I had access to all sorts of stock photos so I got a bit lazy... I forgot what I loved about shooting weather.  These pics aren't great. There is definite room for improvement, but I am interested in doing it again, so that's a big bonus. I had forgotten the tingle in my stomach while reviewing shots and seeing that I GOT ONE!!!
I have missed that feeling.  I actually bounced into the house with a childish grin on my face.  I will continue to work with settings and technique, but I think I am on to something.

Until next time,
~Dewdrop

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Impacts of Hurricane Cristobal

Hurricane Cristobal, though a "fish storm" not directly impacting land, still has an impact. As storms churn off the coast, there can be substantial impacts on shore.  In the case of Hurricane Cristobal, so far, I have seen reports of 4 deaths attributed to the rip currents caused by the low end, off-the-coast hurricane.

I'm sure, by now, you've had the opportunity to see images of the waves off the coast of California, spawned by Hurricane Marie, also a "fish storm".  The waves have drawn surfers and spectators galore.  Here is a link to an article with some pics, in case you've missed them.  They were monstrous, raging waves.

Along the eastern seaboard, the impacts of Hurricane Cristobal have not been nearly as dramatic as the impacts of Hurricane Marie were on the western coast, but there are still impacts.  They are impacts that are more subtle and thereby, I would argue, more dangerous.  Powerful rip currents are stirred up when a hurricane spins off-shore. 


Rip current
A rip current, commonly referred to simply as a rip, or by the misnomer "rip tide", is one specific kind of water current that can be found near beaches. It is a strong, localized, and rather narrow current of water. Wikipedia
 As unsuspecting swimmers are grabbing onto their last days of summer, before school kicks off in the northeast, they are subjecting themselves to dangerous conditions in the ocean.  Rip currents can grab a strong swimmer and take their life.  The narrowness of the current makes it virtually invisible and incredibly dangerous.  If for whatever reason you find yourself caught in a rip current, you are advised to swim parallel to the shore in order to escape it and then swim ashore.  Sadly, you will likely not be successful if you try to swim directly out of it.

Rip currents kill. 

I highly recommend that if rip current flags are raised, then you should stay out of the water, but if you happen to be in the water and get caught up in one, know ahead how to save yourself.  Educate your children, tell the people you're vacationing with... it could save someone's life.

Be aware of what's going on off-shore during your beach vacation.  Hurricanes that don't make landfall don't have much wind and surge impact, but there are other dangerous impacts that are helpful to be aware of...

Till next time,
~Dewdrop

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Storms Don't Scare Me!

Why don't storms scare me? 

I don't really know.  I can't say that it's my faith because I haven't always had faith, but I have always had a passion for weather.  I know people who are terrified of weather (kind of like my brother under the bed hiding from the "lightling").  I know people who beg me to do something about the storms, make them go away.... ummm... I know I've got tremendous Dewvoid.  I know people who pray the storms away... OK, I do actually get that.

Dewvoid: (noun) The absence of significant weather events within a close proximity of me... only cause I think significant weather is really cool.
Perhaps there is an opportunity there to sell my services (storm stopping) to wedding planners and bar mitzvah  coordinators.  You want pretty weather for the event, just invite me, guaranteed sunshine! "Stopping severe weather in a single bound.  It's a bird, it's a plane... no, it's Dewdrop."

I have actually had a conversation recently with a friend at the National Weather Service office who was discussing with me a solid squall indicating severe parameters of wind, and "they" had placed me in the severe warning box. HA!  I told him that it looked like they forgot the Dewvoid in forecasting, and he jokingly said that he should make sure the radar guys draw out a significant Dewvoid parameter... moments later, I was drawn out of the severe warning when the storm completely pulsed down.  You see, it's scientifically proven.  But, I digress.

So, why are so many people terrified of "bad" weather, while I face it head on without a care in the world??

I guess it's not fair to say I don't have a care in the world in the face of severe weather.  I have a healthy respect for flash flooding and would definitely turn around rather than drown.  It simply isn't worth it.  I definitely have a strong respect for lightning and its death inducing potential.  When thunder roars, you should head indoors.  I do that most of the time, OK, OK, some of the time.  Sometimes, I go out on the porch, in the back yard, or in the garage (with the door open) trying to nab a shot. Talk about role reversal, my daughter is usually the one trying to drag me inside.  I know better. I have storm chasing friends who have had some bad experiences. I have been known to seek out rotating wall clouds just to watch them spin, but I did freak out a bit when I ended up in the Drop Zone, this one time on accident because south Georgia roads twist and turn so much and you have really limited visibility for all the trees (Disclaimer: storm chasing in south Georgia is not safe, at all)I have a healthy respect for all things destructive in weather.  Heat, flooding, lightning, wind... gosh even big enough hail can kill a person.  I get that.  The threat is real.

But then... I see a sky like this one here.  This is what showed up after a severe warned thunderstorm rolled through one evening, recently. Do you SEE that?!  It's amazing. 

I guess, for me, it all comes down to striking beauty.  There are times when I look to the sky, and my breath is literally taken away.  My eyes are lured to it; I find myself enthralled with the splendor and glory of His creation.  Sure, the severe stuff is dangerous and can be quite ominous, but the beauty I see seems to outweigh the danger.  I mean, I have seen shelf clouds that look like the mother ship, slinking across the sky, all it's layers and colors and texture.  I have seen cloud to ground lightning, light up a sky in brilliant shades of purple, as its web-like tendrils scatter through the atmosphere, cleaning the air.  I have seen rotating wall clouds, mere feet above the ground, wider than a football field, just barely moving, not hurting anything, just being stunning.  The beauty keeps me seeking more; it draws me in.

I am Dewdrop, and I am obsessed with weather, cause it takes my breath away.  I can't get enough.

I am not scared.  I love it too much!

Till next time,
~Dewdrop

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hurricane Cristobal: Third Hurricane of the Season

We have surpassed the midpoint of the Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season, yet we are only on the 4th storm of this year's season.  That means absolutely nothing regarding the potential for impact from storms this season.

It ain't over till it's over...

It only takes one.  Hurricane Cristobal has reached hurricane strength just off the coast of the Bahamas, skirting the coast of that island paradise and disturbing the plans of vacationers and bumping into the funds that generates for residents.

Hurricane Cristobal does make the third named storm consecutively turned hurricane, starting out the season.  What's kind of cool is that such an event hasn't happened in 22 years.  That's right, back in 1992, the first 3 named storms were hurricanes.  In fact, that year was also a slow season, without any real action until August, where Hurricane Andrew made his appearance... It only takes one.

Fortunately, for interests along the eastern sea-board, it looks like Cristobal is taking a turn to the northeast and not even Bermuda needs to really concern themselves with his movements, but you never know.  We refer to Cristobal-type storms as "fish storms".  I wonder what the fish think...

Trajectory models for Hurricane Cristobal

It only takes one...

I think we have a tendency in the United States (or perhaps just as a human race), to nullify things that don't have a direct impact on us. It's some sort of strange and apathetic ego-centrism.  If it didn't have a big media blitz, it must not have happened.  I can't tell you the people who tell me that we haven't had an active Atlantic season in years...

Actually, in 2011, we made it to the letter "S"  storm, and in 2012, we made it to "T".  It didn't impact the United States though, so it might as well have not even happened.  I think we tend to be that way in other storms of life.  We casually watch the news and see stuff happening to people, but do we really get invested?  Do we feel moved to action when those other people are impacted, or do we somehow put "those people" over there?  Way over there.  Surely, it would never happen to us.  It wouldn't happen here.  That happened to them.  And surely other people are helping them. 

Disasters aren't discriminatory.  People caught up in crisis experience real suffering and need help of those who aren't caught up in the crisis with them.  We have some real opportunities to reach out to others, to be a people of a lifted eye.  We can be a people who look for ways to help others in their greatest moment of need. 

For now, it looks like we won't need to provide too much relief for people in the path of Hurricane Cristobal, but it only takes one.

Until next time...
~Dewdrop 

Monday, August 25, 2014

YOU are a STORM CHASER?!

I have to admit, it is quite the conversation starter.

"YOU are a STORM CHASER!?!"

I think if I were geographically located in the plains somewhere, it would be a bit less shocking, but being in south Georgia, I get quite the reaction. I often joke that I am geographically misplaced.

"You mean, you actually go out looking for tornadoes?!"

Well. Sort of.  I started back in 2006, shadowing a local storm chaser, learning everything I could about severe weather.  I started this blog, and I started connecting with storm chasers throughout the United States.  I made some great friendships in the process and learned so many tricks of the trade.  I really have enjoyed getting to know people who share the same passion for weather as me.  It's an interesting community, full of its own little soap opera-like drama.  We have this thing in common though that causes us to converge.

I actually had a great opportunity to chase in the plains in 2007 with the Twister Sisters, Peg and Mel. We were actually shooting a storm chasing reality show, so I got an all expenses paid ride where we went out to chase a high risk, potentially dangerous situation... and missed the one tornado (a high risk with a total of two tornadoes that whole day) by about 20 minutes.  We had just left the Badlands that June 7th. Talk about bummed.  Leave it to the Dewvoid to kill a high risk day.  I was actually jokingly threatened by local storm chasers to be shipped to Hawaii to keep from killing their storms.  My bad.

I love weather.  I love everything about it.  I am drawn to it from deep within, and I don't really understand that.  We actually discussed it on that same trip, at one point while driving somewhere between South Dakota and Iowa.  What is it about storms that seems to lure us in like a moth to a flame?  Are we just crazy?

Storms are destructive and unpredictable and DANGEROUS!! 

Seriously, what is wrong with me that I would be interested in pursuing something that I could truly describe as deadly??

The easy answer... I don't really know.

Some locals here might eloquently say it like this...

"SHE AIN'T RIGHT."


But... I know that when I look at the sky as it churns angrily above me, I am mesmerized.   I find myself almost lost in it, watching it as it dimples and dips and draws in moisture and climbs to amazing heights while it's rolling and swirling and blasting me with forceful winds and launching electrical strikes.  

I am in awe.
I am mystified.
I am drawn to its striking beauty.
I am seeing something that is truly out of my control and completely in God's sovereign hands, and I love it.


As a recovering control freak, I think that last part might be a huge part of it.  I am not in control, and God is.  I somehow find rest in that.  I find hope in that.  I find courage and strength in that.  I am drawn to that which is way out of my hands, that is so much bigger than me or anything I can pretend to control.  It gives me peace to let the storm be the storm and me be the one in awe of it.

That's why I chase... I think.

Have a super fantastic day!
~Dewdrop

  



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to the Beginning...

I know, I know... I said I would be here more to write about things that mattered to me, to go a bit deeper and share a bit more, but then I think I thought too much about it. All of the sudden though, yesterday, at a women's event with the church, someone asked me a question that got my brain writing a post. It's been so long since that automatically happened that it caught me a bit off-guard.

She asked, "What got you so interested in weather?"

Pretty simple and benign question, but it stirred within me, reminiscing about the path that has brought me here, to this point, right now. In my early days, as a child, weather was always been something fascinating to me. As my brother hid under the bed, hiding from the "lightling", my silly self was planted on the front porch watching the beams of light penetrate the sky with a booming crash, my mother trying urgently to drag me out of harm's way. The wind has always felt like a caress to my face.

My mother tells a story of her walking home once in a storm with me. It came out of nowhere, and the wind was strong, so strong that it lifted me off my feet and she anchored me, much like a kite. I was only 2 years old, but that thrill ride must have been etched on my heart. I think it was probably that moment that the weather became a part of me.

Years later, Hurricane Gayle (1985) passed through my area, just west of us actually, but we lived on the coast so we expected some storm surge (people along the shore had actually been evacuated), but the winds were only high end tropical storm force where we were. I know now that it could have been worse... Our neighborhood had a bit of a hurricane party at one of the houses, and the kids were allowed to play outside in the street which ran perpendicular to the ocean (parenting at its best), literally about 5 tightly packed houses down from the raging sea. There I was, all of 10 years old, leaning into this pounding wind, letting it hold me, push me, surround me, rage against me. I was in love. The wind and I, we got close. That is such a rare joyful memory from my childhood.

Fast forward, just 4 years, to October 1, 1989, and there I was with a boy (ick), parked by a field watching the turmoiled sky, as it dimpled and fretted and lightning cracked and wind started to blast us. At the time I didn't realize that it was a powerfully rotating wall cloud (oops), about to drop an F-2 (that was prior to the development of the enhanced Fujita scale) right in front of us. He tired of sky watching (how is that even possible???), and we went to the video store on the opposite side of the field, where we were all quickly scurried into the center room, as said tornado breezed by the parking lot of the video store where we were hunkered down in the "adult movie room". The tornado itself just grazed the parking lot, throwing shopping carts around, as if they were rag-dolls.

Yep, I'd been bit by the weather bug, a weather bug that that flowed through my veins like some crazy drug, a happy endorphin generator that really I knew very little about back then (obviously...). It wasn't until 2006 that I started to learn about what it was I loved so much. It was then, that my passion fueled a knowledge seeking mission within me. At that time, I sought out to learn everything there was to learn about weather and then some. I made it my personal mission to learn and grow and seek and chase this mysterious, unpredictable, untameable thing that was weather. I couldn't help but do it. Along the way, I found so much more than I ever could have expected.

Until next time...
 ~Dewdrop

Friday, August 01, 2014

Morning Writing Sessions

I was encouraged by my new friend to do an exercise in writing that she learned about at a "She Speaks" conference. I haven't done it yet, but the exercise involves writing 3 pages as soon as I wake up in the morning, not worrying about format or grammar or spelling or anything, just writing. I am thinking that I will go ahead and try that. It's just that my morning time is so precious, but I have some emotional response to recent events that has not broken through, which I am anxious to get written in such a way that communicates what I am feeling about it. I guess that means that I agree with her that the best approach is to just start writing. I'll let you know how that goes. ~Dewdrop

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Re-Awakening...

It's been so long since I have come here, and I don't really even know where to start. I have been busy with life and Examiner and ummm... life, and I can't say that I really have much of an excuse. I got caught up in the excitement of being a "real news writer" (whatever that means...) for a time, and I got wrapped up in all that, and when there simply wasn't enough time to follow all their rules, it just didn't seem worth it anymore, but what I had going here, in my simple little blog... in retrospect, I think it was a pretty good thing.

You see, my heart and my passion is weather, all things weather. I love the way an unstable sky looks, as a storm rages and the underbelly dimples and stretches and reaches, with winding arms and tendrils grasping for something, anything. Sometimes, I even imagine rotation. I love it when the light meets the dark, and they duke it out in the sky. A massive menacing shelf cloud against brilliant blue sky is fascinating, breath-taking, and awe-inspiring, often leaving me wanting to write or share it in some way.

It's not really clear to me why I stepped away from talking about all that, in my own way, through the eyes of a blossoming storm chaser, from the only perspective that I can have... my own. I had a fascinating coffee date yesterday with a new and wonderful friend, who inspired me to get back on this cyclone and ride it out, to get my words down and see where they carried me, so here I am back in flight and ready to soar. I don't really "chase" the weather anymore, but I am still completely passionate about it and thrilled to have the opportunity to see it, to have a lifted eye, to educate others. This journey will most likely look quite different from the last. My life looks a lot different than it did back in those days. My passions have changed slightly. My focus has drastically changed. My priorities have shifted.

 I invite you to come along on this journey, where I will say whatever I feel like saying and not worry about the rules. I might not stick to word counts, and I may shift between 1st, 2nd and 3rd person in a single bound, but I don't care. This is the new flight of a south Georgia storm chaser... Dewdrop style.

Until next time.
~Dewdrop