Waiting for ‘Fall Day’

  Brazoria Wildlife Refuge ~ September 19

Eric Berger and Matt Lanza, two of Houston’s most trusted meteorologists, maintain a website called Space City Weather. Yesterday, Eric wrote:

A few years ago Dan Reilly, the warning coordination meteorologist at the local National Weather Service, and I were discussing fall cool fronts. We agreed the first day it truly felt like fall in Houston should be a holiday.
Every year since, Space City Weather has designated the first day it will truly feel like ‘fall’ in Houston as Fall Day. This year, that day comes on Wednesday, September 22, after a front moves through overnight and brings much cooler and drier air to the region. It may not be an official holiday, but it sure should be one after we survive summer.

‘Survival’ seems precisely the right term. As August drags into September, the combined pressures of heat, humidity, and hurricanes weigh ever more heavily. Memories of our extraordinary February freeze began to fade in the rising summer heat, just as the browns and grays of a stunned landscape turned once again to green.

Wolf Lake ~ February 28
Big Slough ~ August 8
Teal Pond ~ June 13

Despite our eagerness for autumn, summer’s greens — along with summer’s heat and humidity — will linger into October. But a freshening breeze from the north will make the waiting more bearable, and the first hints of color will make the summer that remains even sweeter. It’s a happy coincidence that this year’s ‘Fall Day’ will occur on the autumn equinox. We’re ready.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Galveston Saturday Night

Panoramic view of Galveston, Texas ~ Saturday evening, February 20
Photo by Galveston Chaser (Click to enlarge)

 

A week and a few days ago, winter came to the Texas coast.
Tonight, the snow is gone, the lights are on,
and from a distance Galveston seems to be shining in her accustomed way.
Days and weeks of work will be required to repair the damage,
but, tonight, glasses were raised in tribute to the smaller victories.
It’s the Texas Way.

Comments always are welcome.

Winter Storm Bingo

Well, it’s been quite an experience. As a neighbor said yesterday, “I’m tired of living through a historical event.” But power is coming back, and boiling water is a small price to pay for having water. Yesterday, I found clear and dry roads: a far cry from what Texas experienced for days.

Austin, Texas

To say that Texas cities aren’t equipped for snow removal is an understatement. On the other hand, at least one Texan has a sense of humor.

Out in the country, substituting tractor tires (or hay bales) and chains for snow plows helps to clear the roads.

Bandera County

Of course, not everyone was able to travel.

Galveston Island

Some decided that walking was the better option.

Austin

Between checking the temperature and charging their cell phones in the car, a lot of people played Winter Storm Bingo — but you had to cross off every square to win.

Eventually, some areas began to thaw, roads cleared, and the lines at generator-powered fast food restaurants stretched for blocks.

Despite it all, the beauty was memorable. These photos, taken by Will Leverett at or near Stillwaters Ranch in Llano County, tell the tale. Located near the Willow City Loop and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, they celebrate a rarely seen view of the Texas landscape.

This is not a Longhorn. It’s a modern American breed: Ankole-Watusi

I’d like to see such sights in person one day, although, to be honest, I’d prefer seeing them with a functioning power grid to keep things a little more comfortable at home.

Comments always are welcome.
Photos other than Will Leverett’s were being widely shared online, without attribution.

Nature’s Wind Vane

Folk weather forecasting has been around as long as there have been folk to scry the signs. My grandmother depended on rain ravens; my grandfather preferred caterpillars.

Non-believers tend to poke fun at such convictions, and their amusement may have contributed to the fad known as ‘weather rocks.’  A staple of my childhood, weather rocks offered tongue-in-cheek forecasts: wet rocks indicated rain, dry rocks meant sunshine. Fog meant an invisible rock, and if the rock was gone? A tornado had passed by.

Decades later, I discovered Cajun rope barometers. The object may differ, but the same principles apply.

Like that rope, the Spanish moss draping the oaks at a neighborhood nature center serves as a fine weather indicator, particularly when it comes to wind. On Saturday afternoon, in the calm preceding tropical storm Beta, it hung motionless toward the ground.

Eventually, it began to stir, indicating both the direction and speed of the wind.

Two hours later, swirling winds had taken hold, bringing clouds and, at last, rain.

Comments always are welcome.

A Little Hurricane Humor

 

No, hurricanes aren’t a laughing matter, but in truth, humor helps. One of the classics that’s been passed around meteorological circles for years is this cartoon by Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side. Flying into the eye of a hurricane’s no joke, but even those intrepid hurricane hunters laugh at this one.

If you’ve never watched a Hurricane Hunters video, this one, provided by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, offers a nice overview of their work.

 

Comments always are welcome.