Saturday, October 23, 2010

Logarithmic Spirals -OR- A Fall Tropical Storm Named Richard (Part 2)

An intriguing image of the logarithmic spiral structure shared by a mature tropical cyclone -- in this case, Hurricane Isabel as it struck the North Carolina coast on or about Sept. 18, 2003 -- and a very far away classic spiral (pinwheel) galaxy, M51 (NGC 5194), a.k.a. the "Whirlpool Galaxy" (with its companion galaxy NGC 5195). Source Sept. 25, 2003 APOD.

Another hurricane - spiral galaxy logarithmic spiral comparison -- this one of Hurricane Katrina as it neared the Louisiana coast and an unidentified galaxy. Source here.

Of note, the Milky Way Galaxy is likely a barred spiral rather than a true spiral.



As I mentioned in my last entry, a Tropical Storm has formed in the northwestern Caribbean Sea named Richard. I believe this is the first time ever in my life that there has ever been a tropical system named "Richard" -- which is significant to yours truly, Regulus, since that is the regular name by which he goes.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) update issued at 11AM EDT (this link will change over time) this morning states the following (in its familiar all-caps New Courier font):


Location: 15.9°N 83.5°W
Max sustained: 65 mph
Moving: W at 8 mph
Min pressure: 1000 mb

Here is visible image of a "rapidly strengthen(ing)" Tropical Storm Richard taken by the GOES Floater at 1615 UTC (1215PM EDT) Oct. 23, 2010.

As of 11AM today, T.S. Richard is centered about 65 miles (130 km) NNW of Cabo Gracias a Dios ("Cape Thank God") on the Nicaragua - Honduras border.

Above is a screen shot image of the Google map satellite view of Cabo Gracias a Dios.

The NHC discussion issued at 11AM today states:


Gracias a Dios?


The official National Hurricane Center 5-day track for Tropical Storm Richard issued 11AM EDT, Oct. 23, 2010.

The above forecast map shows Richard dissipating as an extra-tropical system over the southern Gulf of Mexico. Its track is beginning to look like another weak tropical storm earlier this year with a name that has some significance of a Mr. Sirius sort to me ...

This was the NHC forecast path and intensity for Tropical Storm Matthew issued on Sept. 23, 2010.

But three days later, after having come ashore as a weak tropical storm over Belize / Guatemala, Matthew sorta died in southern Mexico.

Here was one of the last NHC forecasts for Tropical Storm Matthew as it stalled and was dying -- raining itself out over the jungles of far southern old Mexico.

Perhaps -- hopefully -- the remnant moisture of Richard will get drawn northward into a strong storm system forecasted to develop next week over the Mississippi River valley. And hopefully it will move eastward to the mid-Atlantic.

GFS 12 UTC 23 Oct 2010 model run 78 hour forecast valid at 18UTC (2PM EDT) 26 Oct 2010 showing 6 hour precipitation, mean sea level pressure (MSLP) and 850mb temperatures.

I want it to rain.

Everything looks so vapid and dull this fall -- probably as a result of the intensely hot and rather dry summer.

I write the next paragraph advisedly, but I'm sure the anti-weather meteorologist magicians at LWX (and not just WOODY!) are earnestly seeking to have this storm "shear out with good drying moving in followed by rising heights and warmer temps."

Remember, it's the goal of the Sterling crew -- not to mention their favorite TV weather lady, Sue Palka (she of the snake eyes mascara) on channel 5 whom I long ago stopped watching -- to have hot, dry weather at all times.

Of course, they don't want it so hot that they are forced to issue ANY kind of heat advisories for our area. Instead, they prefer to write 7 page long area forecast discussions that conclude "will hold off on advisories since heat criteria will be at 104F" rather than 105F.

Here is LWX's ideal climate zone:

Sandstone Pillars, Karnasai valley, Chad central Sahara Desert, Chad, 1999, Photograph by George Steinmetz. Source URL here.


Or better yet this ...

The Atacama Desert in either Chile or Peru (not sure where I found this picture).


Let me be clear about wanting rain in the context of writing about tropical cyclones ... I do NOT want a catastrophic hurricane ...

The eye of Hurricane Katrina near its (scary) peak intensity of 175MPH sustained winds on Aug. 28, 2005 as taken by NOAA Corps Officer Lt. Mike Silah piloting a hurricane hunter aircraft. Image source here.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which killed over 1800 people and caused somewhere on the order of $100 billion in direct damages, not to mention rendering New Orleans a lawless, uninhabitable "heckuva job" death zone for many weeks -- and setting off one of the largest internal diaspora in U.S. history, on par with the 1930s Dust Bowl and the 1860s Civil War -- and forever changing the city and country's perception of itself and its capabilities.

FYI: This is the Koch Brothers-funded Teabaggers "dream libertarian" scenario. As for Obama, he'll just "analyze all sides of the issue and compromise as necessary for the sake of bipartisanship."

Anyway, reason I am making a fuss about a possible "Hurricane Richard" is because the odds are so long of such a named storm.

For starters, the name only appears on the Atlantic basin list. Secondly, tropical cyclone names used in the Atlantic (and Eastern North Pacific) are repeated only every 7 years -- that is, a given list is used every 7 years, unless there is a major hurricane and the name is retired.

Atlantic sector GOES water vapor image, 1715 UTC (1:15PM EDT) Oct. 23, 2010.


So it can only happen once every 7 years, and on that 7th year, you have to get up to the "R" storm in the Atlantic basin, which is actually rather hard to do. The name "Richard" does not appear on any other list of tropical cyclone names. (Oh, and yes, Richard and Matthew occur on the same Atlantic basin list.)

A simply awesome image of Hurricane Isabel as the storm approached the U.S. East Coast as seen from the International Space Station, Sept. 15, 2003. The storm was already weakening at this point. Source here.


The naming conventions get much more complicated for other parts of the Pacific, where they are called typhoons. The Indian Ocean and Australian regions also have sets of names that have different rules for how they are used.

Here is a discussion from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) on the lists and naming conventions in different parts of the world.

A map of all tropical cyclones and their Saffir-Simpson scale intensity, 1945 - 2006. Click on image for larger version.


Now In the Indian Ocean, tropical cyclones are called simply "cyclones." This is a bit confusing since there are "tropical" and "extratropical" cyclones -- with the former driven by latent heat from warm tropical oceans and the FAR MORE common latter driven by equator-pole temperature differences. There are also hybrid storms (dubbed "sub-tropical storms").

The Blue Marble image of Earth taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts on Dec. 7, 1972 as they set out for the Moon.

Interestingly, in what is arguably THE MOST famous image of Planet Earth ever taken -- the "Blue Marble" photo shown above -- shows a little-known Indian Ocean cyclone.

As near as I can tell, that storm -- visible in the upper right of the photo striking India -- was simply called the Tamil Nadu cyclone for the state in India it struck (rather than having a proper name since there wasn't a common naming convention back then for the Indian Ocean) and it killed 80 people when it struck.

Here is a close-up of the Blue Marble photo showing the Tamil Nadu cyclone hitting India on Dec. 7, 1972.

Actually, the Blue Marble photo as taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts looked like this -- the South Pole / Antarctica was at their "top" due to their direction and orientation of travel.

This is how they probably saw the Earth -- "upside down."


Now here is a part of the world that virtually never* gets hurricanes / tropical storms -- the coast of Southern California.

My friend Chris took this picture on Oct. 19, 2010 in Venice Beach, Calif., on a work trip to the L.A. area. It had actually been raining in an out of season way there -- due to an upper level cut-off low, not a tropical system.

*There are at least two notable exceptions: Sept. 1939 and even more noteworthy on Oct. 2, 1858 (this one is worth a look).

The map above shows weak tropical storms that technically "hit" Southern California in the past 50 years. Click on image for larger version. It comes from this overview of all such events.


Changing subjects ...

This entry has gone on for quite some time, and I probably should wrap it up (not that anyone has actually read it in its entirety).

My work week was OK, I guess, although I still don't have enough long-term assignments to keep me busy (and justify my long-term employment there).

Our office is actually moving -- across the hall. My new office is a teeny - tiny cubicle in a warren of other cubicles.

No, this isn't my new office. But it does look like a call center in Bangalore -- a Washington Post editorial writer's Free Trade wet dream.

I'm not thrilled about that but I guess I'll get used to it. I can see daylight -- facing another part of the oddly shaped building. If the building weren't in the way of itself like that, I'd actually see the nearby U.S. Capitol Building.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the day I believe I can return to Co. after a one-month hiatus ...

Last night, I went out with Gary and Kristof, first to Larry's Lounge and then to Omega, where I rarely go. We were going to go to Fab Lounge, but it appeared to be black lesbian night ...

Larry's Lounge, Washington, D.C., 9:40PM, Oct. 22, 2010.


J. and his young straight friends showed up in a small group later on, which was kind of weird. True, I asked him to come, but it was still odd seeing three 20-something straight guys and a 23 year old girl at Omega, one of D.C.'s lower-rent gay bars.

My upper left gum above a crowned molar began throbbing and hurting very badly -- and was actually swollen, though my face was not disfigured.

This is something I worry about after the horrible abscess / gum infection in 2000 that could've killed me.

I thought the tooth was going to come out, except the tooth itself never hurt. There was a sort of big bump on my gum by the time I got home. But by this morning it had eased considerably and now it is gone.

I continue to suffer from frequent headaches and pains behind my eyes. I'm not sure if it is some sort of migraine, or stress, or something more serious. I probably should go to the doctor for a badly needed checkup.

Here is a picture of the wonderfully kitschy interior of Bangkok Garden in Bethesda that I took with my previous cell phone crummy camera, April 29, 2009.

As for today, I'm supposed to go to Bethesda to Bangkok Garden (see above image) to meet Sandie for dinner. She is my long ago landlord from the time I lived in Rockville in the summer of 1992. We meet about once every 6 months or so for dinner. As for tonight, I'm not sure what is going on with the usual gang.

OK, that's all for now. My next planned update will be in a few days.


1 comment:

krzysztof said...

This is a nice entry

the remnant moisture of Richard