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.

A Song for the Situation


From Sabine to Chauvin, from NOLA to Pascagoula to Apalachicola, the watches are going up and the warnings will come. Even Gulf Coast residents well outside the current cones of uncertainty are uneasy; they know that tropical systems aren’t to be trusted, and it’s time to prepare.

It will take time for the tracks of Marco and Laura to be firmed up, but it’s clear that something’s lurking.  In the marinas, docklines are being doubled, and extra fenders hung. Gas lines are a little longer. In the local cafés and at the boat ramps, uncertainties stemming from this latest oddity — two hurricanes in the Gulf in one week? — are being endlessly discussed.

Amid it all, the unofficial anthem of hurricane season has re-emerged. There’s something comforting about Jimmy Buffett’s classic tale of preparation and resignation in the face of a storm, particularly if the shutters are hung, the boat’s secured, and the beer’s still cold. A few of you know the lyrics by heart. If the song is new to you, enjoy.

Comments always are welcome.