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JANUARY 2015
In This Issue:
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Anemometer WEATHER IN ACTIOn

2015 Promises Weather Action Galore

If it's anything like 2014, the New Year is bound to offer weather-watchers all over the globe something to get excited about.

2014 started and ended with cold snaps for everyone in the US east of the Mississippi. 2015 might be trying to top that by producing snow in Florida for its opening cold snap.

But of course, cold was not the real problem in 2014. That honor goes to HEAT. According to Brian Kahn, of Climate Central, "This year [2015] is virtually guaranteed to go down as the world’s hottest on record. But it’s not just one hot year we’re talking about. It’s a staggering list." He writes that the the 15 hottest years on record have all been since 1997. With a weak El Niño possible, 2015 will be on that list too. Click through to his story, if you are brave.

While we like an amazing weather extreme as much as the next weather nut, we are hoping that in 2015 Mother Nature will calm down on the disasters she dished out so freely in 2014. Droughts in Brazil, the US and Australia; floods in India and Pakistan; extreme cold and snow in Japan and the United States; cyclones in India; fires and heat in Australia...and the list goes on.

On the other hand, California, home of Davis Instruments, was too pleasantly warm and DRY. While our friends in Buffalo were digging themselves out of snowbanks, we were plodding placidly to our warmest year on record, according to NOAA. We weren't alone in our sunny misery -- Nevada and Arizona also had their hottest years.

Everyone here at Davis wishes 2015 will bring your Vantage Vue or Vantage Pro2 enough rain and snow, heat and wind, to make things interesting. Just interesting, not painful.

As for us, we're just hoping all those new bird-spiked rain collectors on our roof get a workout-- and soon.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 1:


May your New Year be:
(pick the one that is an actual word)

1. Hailocoptic
2. Pyronanimous
3. Frigorific
4. Precipitorious

(Click here for answers.)


Vantage Pro2 Survives Hurricane Odile


The battle-tested Santa Rosa Vantage Pro2 “took a licking and kept on ticking”.


The San Jose del Cabo Hyatt after Odile.

Dave Dingeman and Mike Hubbard, of Santa Rosa in Baja, Mexico, survived Hurricane Odile,one of the two most intense tropical cyclones to make landfall in Baja.

We’re grateful for Dave’s report back to us – it has some really good advice for weather watchers on a storm’s path. Here's what he wrote:

Jorge Garza, who has a Davis WeatherLinkIP station “Elzacatal,” reports on local weather and has been working to develop a network of Davis stations covering the southern portion of the Baja peninsula.  His continuing efforts to expand the network really came through with some great data being collected and reported during Odile's passage over the tip of Baja on September 14 and 15, 2014.

We have attached the graphs of three stations' historical data for wind speed and pressure for the period, with Santa Rosa showing more detail since it maintained internet connection with a backup generator and continuous transmissions throughout the storm. The graphs are impressive, showing the rapid drop and rise in pressure with corresponding wind speeds.

Miraflores was included to show the quite impressive wind speeds considering its inland location and a mountain range approaching 6000 feet (1829 m) in elevation separated it from the storm track.

Here is a Google Earth snapshot summarizing the track and station data from three of our stations.

Words of advice for others that might experience such an event would be to:

1. Check to be sure the console clock is reading the right time (to make it easier to compare data sets).  The Davis system normally auto corrects the uploaded data for time stamping and it is easy to forget when you have a power failure (with dead batteries) which changes the clock date.

2. Have fresh batteries in the console and disconnect the IP logger if you are going to be without power for an extended period to preserve data.  The Federal Power Commission reports that Odile was the largest electrical disaster Mexico has ever experienced with many experiencing an extended power outage.

3. Have some battery and generator backup if possible for your phone or internet connection since phone and/or cable connections usually stay in service longer than electrical service. Only one station was able to report live in Baja California Sur (Santa Rosa) throughout the storm. We are told it was like a "little candle glowing in the dark" for thousands following the hurricane on the net.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 2:

 

Odile shares the title of "most intense tropical cyclone" to make landfall in Baja." Which other storm was as bad?

Extra Credit: Besides being a CAT 4 hurricane, why was Odile particularly dangerous?


(Click here for answers.)

Finnish Emergency Personnel Take Their Weather Stations with Them

When Campbell Scientific American announced its "Science in Action" photo competition, our Finnish reseller Ilkka Llija was quick to enter his photo of a Davis weather station installed on a SAR (emergency services) vehicle.

"They assemble and install their wind and wireless temperature humidity station in less than a minute using aluminum pipe pieces and magnets," Ilkka tells us.

While this photo may not have won the big prize in the competition, we award it first place!!

The View from Mount Olympus's Vantage Pro2

Vasileios Nikolaou, of Athens, Greece, told us about the installation of Vantage Pro2 with 24-Hour Fan-Aspirated Radiation Shield that has been installed at the Kakalos refuge on Mount Olympus in Greece, waaay up there at 8,688 feet (2,648 meters).

"The whole system," Vasileios wrote, "is solar powered and data is transmitted through 3G network. A team of volunteer climbers with mules helped carry the equipment to the refuge as there is no access to vehicles. Climbing distance is 14.5km (9 miles)."

Vasileios has dreams of greatness! "We are looking forward to measuring the lowest temperatures in Greece and to studying the microclimate of Olympus."

From the photo, that looks very likely, Vasileios! You can see how they are doing by checking out their web site and their weather page.

>> Back to Menu

AnemometerWEATHER 101

We Got a Nice Ride on the Pineapple Express: Our Own Atmospheric River

As 2014 wound down, we found ourselves looking out the window at the approach of a river. Yes, Davis Instruments sits on the edge of a bay, not a river, but at that moment, a river was bearing down on it. The name of the river is the Pineapple Express, because it forms across the Pacific near Hawaii. It is what is called an atmospheric river, a term coined in 1998, by MIT researchers Yong Zhu and Reginald Newell.

According to NOAA, atmospheric rivers are "relatively narrow regions in the atmosphere that are responsible for most of the horizontal transport of water vapor outside of the tropics." They are indeed rivers, rushing rivers of water in the form of vapor. The strongest can transport as much as 15 Mississippi Rivers' worth of liquid water. They are usually about a mile up (1.6 km), 250 miles (402 km) wide and very long, sometimes stretching all the way across the ocean.

The thing about atmospheric rivers, for us Californians, is we depend upon them (and, sometimes, we hate them). This time around, we've suffered a loooong drought and our prayers and rain dances and Homages to the Earth Mother were somewhat answered with all the precipitation we wanted -- for the moment. Atmospheric rivers are neither unusual or unwelcome here on the West Coast. With an average of about nine per year, atmospheric rivers bring us 30 - 50% of our annual precipitation.

But every so often, we get more than we can handle. And by every so often, we mean about every 200 years. Back in 1861 -1862, California was slammed with 43 days of relentless rain that left the Central Valley one giant inland sea. It killed thousands, washed away whole communities, and did enough property damage to bankrupt the state. The Flood of 1862 was likely caused by an atmospheric river, and it was right on schedule. By looking at flood deposits and sediment cores, geologists have ascertained that megafloods have been on a roughly 200-year rotation in California since forever.

What do you need to make a good atmospheric river dump buckets of rain? Lots of water vapor first and foremost, then add some strong winds so the water vapor will be easily pushed up over the land and mountains as the river comes ashore. That way the water vapor will condense and pour down as rain. In addition to strong winds, you need atmospheric conditions that don't inhibit upward motion.

Want to know more about atmospheric rivers and their relationship to California megafloods? Check out this interesting Scientific American article by Michael D. Dettinger and B. Lynn Ingram

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 3:


During the Flood of 1862, some folks in Sacramento took whatever tools they had and broke the levees. Why?
A. They were protesting the massacre of 60 women, children and elders of the Wiyot Indians on Indian Island near Eureka, by white settlers.
B. They were working for Western Union to open a route for the first transcontinental telegraph line.
C. They were trying to get the level of the water in Sacramento down to the level of the flooding Sacramento River.
D. They were avant garde artists installing a work of art.

Extra Credit: Speaking of rivers, here's question for you. Why do rivers flow even when no rain has fallen for weeks??

Even More Extra Credit:
True or False: Human activities and cities cause rivers to dry up.
True of False: Human activities and cities cause rivers to flood.

(Click here for answers.)

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Warbler Tornado Warning

Scientists studying some Golden-wing Warblers in the Appalachians mountains of Tennessee discovered that the birds evacuated the area, heading for the Gulf of Mexico, a day before serious tornadoes whipped through the south and central United States. The question is, are they tiny, breathing weather stations whose wisdom we might be able to use?

When the birds left, the weather was fine, and they came right home after the storm, so they seem to know well in advance that the storms were coming, but also knew from a distance when the danger had passed.

Check out the story on BBC News and Science.

AnemometerTECH TIPS

Bird Spikes? Move Your Solar/UV Sensors

Have you gotten your new Replacement Rain Cone Kit with the bird spikes? If you are a Vantage Pro2 Plus, owner you should know that the spikes may cast a tiny shadow on the solar radiation and UV sensor and cause your data to be less accurate.

But never fear! There's an easy fix! We recommend that you move the shelf to the FRONT of the rain bucket, rather than the back. For details on how to do this, check out App Note 37. (It's also in our Weather Support Section under Accessories.)

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 4:

 

True or False: While we doubt you have a problem with turkeys roosting on your rain collector, they are indeed stupid enough to try.

(Click here for answers.)

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AnemometerI spy a davis weather station

Might WeatherLink Get a Nomination for Best Supporting Actor?

Matthew McGee spent a relaxing afternoon at the movies watching Into the Storm. Funnels tossing trucks around, ho hum, screaming people holding on for dear life, all very nice. Then he noticed that one of the computer screens in a chase vehicle was running WeatherLink! Now that's exciting! You can see for yourself by going to the Into the Storm web page and scrolling through the still photos in the "Gallery" link on the left hand side of the page.

Lighthouse Weather in Texas

Barry Beuershausen, of Refugio, Texas, was fishing near Port Aransas when he spotted this familiar sight.

"The lighthouse is just north of the Corpus Christi ship channel that links the Port of Corpus Christi to the Gulf of Mexico and is no longer an active lighthouse.  We were going into a channel that runs along the lighthouse to reach some shallow water sloughs that are in the area behind the lighthouse when I saw the Vantage Pro2. I turned the boat around and got this shot of the Davis and the lighthouse."

"The lighthouse (as with all lighthouses) has a colorful history including the fact that the Confederate Army took the Fresnel lens out of the beacon tower and buried it in the sand to keep the Union forces from being able to use the beacon for their navigation during the War Between The States.  (The lens is now on display in Port Aransas in, I think, the Chamber of Commerce building and Tourist Center)." 

Barry added this nice footnote: "I love my Vantage Pro2!"

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Anemometerdavis in the news

WeatherSTEM Creator Ed Mansouri Inspiring Young Meteorologists


Photo: Rose Klein, Greene Publishing, Inc. Used with permission.

Ed Mansouri was featured in an article in The Madison Enterprise Recorder for his amazing brainchild, WeatherSTEM.

What is WeatherSTEM? It's is "a weather-based web portal using live information (rain, for example) to create data (inches of rain and rain strength) taken from agricultural probes and Web cameras connected to an outside transmitter, that can be used to develop curriculum-based activities in schools."

What it is, in short, is awesome! It includes everything you need to create some passionate young meteorologists -- software, instruction for educators, equipment and installation. Just add students.

Ed has installed stations in all five Madison County, Florida, schools, five farms in Madison County, and one more at his own home. The students and community have their own Madison County network.

Click the link to find out more about WeatherSTEM.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 5:

True or False: You can tell how fresh snow is by how it sounds.

Extra Credit: If you ask the next WeatherSTEM student you meet this question: "What does a cloud wear under his raincoat?," what will he or she say?

(Click here for answers.)

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AnemometerMail Bag

High Wind Gust: 82 MPH!

Back in October, Serge Bin's station recorded a wind gust of 82 mph (132 kph) during Hurricane Gonzalo on St. Barts. He saw the pressure plummet to 984 mb as the eye passed over the island.  His data was shared in Dr. Jeff Master's blog on Weather Underground. The storm created high winds and rain in Lesser Antilles, Antigua, Barbuda, as well as St. Barthelemy.

Blue skies in Gosbreuil, France



Madam and Monsieur Yannick Duranteau were thrilled to install their Vantage Pro2 and WeatherlinkIP in October - so thrilled, they sent us the first "baby pic" of their installation.  We wish them all nombre de jours heureux sous le beau ciel bleu de France!

Who Invented the Rain Spike?

So reader Craig Correl, of Carlsbad, California, likes our new bird-spike rain collector. In fact, he thinks he invented it!

"So GUYS!  Come awwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnn! Credit where credit is due?" Craig wailed, directing our attention to two past issue where we featured the bird prevention systems he created to battle his nemesis: "Mr. Jay and Mr. Mockingbird."

Nice try Craig, but while your "Crown of Death" was very nice, you'll have to share the title of inventor with our engineers and about a zillion other bird-fighting Vantage Pro2 owners!

If you want to take a look at Craig's data, it's here.

Love Letter, Straight from the Heart

Alston Keith, of Birmingham, Alabama, dropped us a nice little love note! He said our editor should be commended and given a big box of chocolates. Well, maybe he didn't say the chocolate part, but we feel that is what he meant to say. Alston is the owner of a original Vantage Pro which has been churning out weather data for 11 years.

"One of my favorite things to do is look at historical data.  It is nice to confirm when someone says 'this is the hottest summer in the past 10 years, or coldest winter in the past 10 years.' That is when I politely say 'well, let's check to see what the exact temp was in my backyard over the past10 years.'"

"I know of no other product with moving parts that can stand up to the elements over an 11 year period. My [Integrated Sensor Suite} ISS receives direct sunlight all day. The anemometer is mounted high above my roof and also receives direct sunlight all day in addition to the heat that radiates off my black shingled roof.  It just keeps on ticking!"

"Thank you for manufacturing such a high quality product.  At the time when I made the purchase I wondered if it was the right way to spend over $500. Well, 11 years later I can say it was dam well worth it! But I know one day the equipment will fail and I will not hesitate to purchase the latest Davis Vantage Pro available.  I will keep the original Vantage Pro equipment for the rest of my life to remind me quality products are still made."

Who needs chocolates when you get a letter like that?


 What do you think of the E-Newsletter? How can we improve? How do you use your Davis weather products? E-mail us at news@davisnet.com.

IconANSWERS TO QUIZ QUESTIONS

Question 1:
May your New Year be:

Frigorific! According to Dictionary.com, it means "causing or producing cold." But not too frigorific.

>> Back to Menu

Question 2: Odile shares the title of "most intense tropical cyclone to make landfall in Baja. Which other storm was as bad?

And the honor goes to: Hurricane Olivia, 1997.

Extra Credit: Why was Odile particularly dangerous?
It was forecasted to turn out to sea, so residents took only minimal precautions. When it turned back toward land, there wasn't much time to provide for the approximately 26,000 tourists. It was also not weakened as much as is typical by hitting land.

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Question 3: During the Flood of 1862, some folks in Sacramento took whatever tools they had and broke the levees. Why?

The right answer is C. During the flood, in Sacramento levee damage allowed water in from East then acted as a dam keeping water in the city until it was 10 feet higher than the level of the Sacramento River outside. Chain gangs had to break open the levee to lower flooding to just 5-6 feet (1.5 -1.8 meters).

A and B are not right, but they are true stories. Sadly that massacre did occur, about two years earlier in February of 1860. Bret Harte, newspaper reporter in Arcata, fed the news to newspapers in San Francisco.

Western Union didn't need any help opening their telegraph line by then. In October 1861, the first transcontinental telegraph message was sent when Justice Stephen J. Field of California transmitted a telegram to President Lincoln. Telegraph lines linked the West Coast to the rest of the country and made the Pony Express obsolete late in the year.

D is neither right nor true.We don't think artistic expression was on anyone's mind in those awful days.

Extra Credit: Why do rivers flow even when no rain has fallen for weeks??

When you stand on a river bank, you can see the river flowing. But what you can't see is the part of the river that is flowing under your feet! Water is flowing under the river bottom and under the banks, in a zone of water called the hyporheic zone. It's an important habitat for insects and crustaceans, and can extend for a long way into the river's floodplain. The river, the hyporheic zone, and the aquifer or groundwater in the area are really all part of one system. In places, the river will cut into the water table and allow the ground water to feed the river. In other places, the aquifer reaches the ground and "springs" up to run in channels into rivers and lakes. While most of the water in a river comes from rain or snow melt, even when neither is present, the unseen part of the river system keeps running. For more on this, see this explanation by Cristi Cave, of the University of Washington's School of Fisheries.

Even More Extra Credit: True or False: Human activities and cities cause rivers to dry up.
True of False: Human activities and cities cause rivers to flood.

Both are true. Early in 2001, the Rio Grande river failed to reach the Gulf of Mexico for the first time. By the time it reached the gulf, all of its water had been drained off for thirsty people, industry, and farms. Dams, wells, reservoirs, aqueducts had diverted it all. The Colorado, once mighty enough to carve the Grand Canyon, no longer reaches the Colorado River Delta or the Gulf of California. Human activities have made left many rivers to trickle out before reaching their natural mouths, including the Yaqui in Mexico, the Indus in Pakistan, the Amu Darya in the Soviet Union, the Ganges in Bangladesh, the Teetsa in India, the Yellow and Tarim in China, and the Murray in Australia.

Hard surfaces of cities, like roads, roofs and parking lots do not absorb water so none of that water goes to recharge the aquifer. Instead, it all dumps directly into the river as runoff. When a big rain storm does finally come, the river can't handle this increase in runoff water and floods.

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Question 4: While we doubt you have a problem with turkeys roosting on your rain collector, they are indeed stupid enough to try.

False! Turkeys are social, affectionate, brave, playful, curious and very smart. They learn from experience, come out of the rain, have preferred friends (and enemies) in the flock. And as Susie Coston of Farm Sanctuary once told us, "If you ever want to become a stand-up comedian, practice on a flock of turkeys." (She then demonstrated by laughing loudly, to which all six of the turkeys in the enclosure chortled loudly!) Check out this video of a very smart turkey called Bumble. (And Susie says to ignore the last frame...)

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Question 5: True or False: You can tell how fresh snow is by how it sounds.

True. Freshly fallen sound has a dampening effect on sound. As it ages and gets more densely packed it loses its ability to absorb sound. New snow also sometimes squeaks when walk on a freshly dusted sidewalk when it is very cold outside.

Extra Credit: If you ask the next WeatherSTEM student you meet this question: "What does a cloud wear under his raincoat?," what will he or she say?

Thunderwear, of course!

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AnemometerWHO YOU GONNA CALL?

Davis!
Each month after the E-News goes out, we receive messages back. Sometimes the messages are in response to a story we shared; other times they are a request for help of some kind. We read all the emails, answer those we can, and pass the rest on to the appropriate departments. If you're interested in the fastest possible reply, news@davisnet.com may not be the best place to send your message. Questions about how things work should be addressed to tech support directly at support@davisnet.com. For general information about the products, contact sales@davisnet.com. To request a catalog, see the links for catalog requests on our web site at www.davisnet.com/contact/catalog.asp.

What do you think of our E-news? Please continue to send your comments, weather URLs, and story suggestions to news@davisnet.com. We look forward to getting your comments and any responses you have to the Davis E-News. Member participation is what keeps the Davis E-News alive and kicking.

Well, that's it for this edition. You'll be hearing from us again next month!
If you would like to receive the Weather Club e-newsletter via email every month, sign up now.

The Davis Weather Club E-Newsletter is published by Davis Instruments.

Vantage Connect, Vantage Vue, Vantage Pro2, Vantage Pro2 Plus, Vantage Pro, Vantage Pro Plus, Weather Monitor, Weather Wizard, WeatherLink, WeatherLinkIP, Weather Envoy, and Perception are trademarks of Davis Instruments Corp.

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