Snowflake Trails

Three days into spring and it snowed. Curious, I set the iPad in a window facing a neighbor’s house. Using the NightCap app, it captured a 33 sec exposure in Light Trails mode. The fast shutter speed showed the paths of many individual flakes. Click for best view embiggened.

Taken with NightCap Light Trails mode, 33.27 second exposure, 1/110s shutter speed.

Eye of Michael | GOES View | 10 Oct 2018

This is the best view I’ve ever seen of the dynamics of the eye and wall of a powerful hurricane. Michael was recorded by the GOES-16 weather satellite on 10 Oct 2018 as it made landfall in Florida with 150 mph winds. Notice how the eye lost shape as it went inland.

Click on the image to be taken to the University of Wisconsin Department of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. There you can watch the video.

U of Wisconsin | Dept of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences


Eye of Michael | ISS View | 10 Oct 2018

ISS View of Michael

According to NASA, cameras outside the International Space Station captured views of Hurricane Michael at 12:58 p.m. EDT Oct. 10 from an altitude of 255 miles. The eye was making landfall with winds of over 150 mph as a category 4 storm. This video is part of a longer video captured from their YouTube channel. It is about double normal speed. The view is directly down into the eye.

3-D View of Eye

I got two screen captures of the view down into the eye a few seconds apart. They are from slightly different directions due to the rapid speed of the ISS. The two images were sized the same and placed side-by-side in the image below.

If you are able to do the parallel viewing method, stare through this image at a distance. The images for your right and left eyes should merge into a third one in the center. The center one is a 3-D view down into the eye. Be patient. It might take a few moments for the effect to become easily seen. I can see the water surface below a thin cloud deck. The walls of the eye are steep and tall.

Hurricanes | Zooniverse Helps Relief Efforts

Zooniverse is a citizen science network. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers worldwide who take part in science projects online. I participate in several and wrote about Zooniverse in a previous post. Researchers invite volunteers to take part in many types of projects from astronomy to zoology.

Recent hurricanes in the Caribbean islands caused much loss of life and damage to property and ecosystems. Zooniverse volunteers were asked to help relief efforts by examining satellite images of the islands before and after the hurricanes. By comparing before-after images of the same places, structural damages, flooding, road blockage, and temporary housing were assessed. Color coded maps were made from the assessments showing the places most in need of relief efforts. Rapid response was extremely important. Here is an example of one of those ‘heat maps’ of the island of St. Thomas. Red and purple show the greatest need for help.

Show me more…

Tornado Funnel Cloud

We headed home late in the afternoon after visiting our daughters in southeast Iowa. A small thunderstorm was leaving the area we drove north of the town of Mt. Pleasant. We hadn’t paid attention to the weather notices since we were busy visiting. A severe storm watch had been issued. This small storm looked quite energetic. I remarked how the trailing part of a storm is often where funnel or tornado activity originates. Thank you spotter training 101. In all my years of watching weather, I have not seen a tornado in real time.


We approached the rear of the storm as we drove north. The arrow in this radar map shows our location. The sky was bright to the west and dark to the east. A few cloud formations appeared low to the northwest. I was not driving the car and watched one funnel shape in particular. It was small and rotating very fast. We pulled to the side of the road to avoid driving into the path of it in case it got to the ground. It broke up.

We drove another mile and watched the same cloud form another funnel. This one was larger and longer. We pulled off the main highway to a side road for a better and safer view. The funnel was but a half mile away, still to our northwest. Full screen gives a more detailed view.

I called the NWS reporting phone number to give them details on location and movement they need to issue warnings. We watched the storms later as they moved into Illinois. Some storms caused heavy rains and hail. Extensive tornado damage occurred in the small town of Cameron about 30 miles east of where we watched this funnel.