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Davis Weather E-news
February 2014
In This Issue:

Facebook Photos of Weather Stations in Winter

December 2013, January, and February 2014, found many Northern Hemisphere Davis weather stations up to their wind cups in snow and ice. But not all of them! Some had cat hair and owl feathers! And those in the Bay Area, well, let's just say, we believe our console's "umbrella" icon is still there, somewhere...

Here's a little selection of some of our favorite winter photos posted on our Facebook page.

1.Chris Struss's Vantage Vue, in Belleville, Canada, says, "Don't go outside."

2. This is how Mark Newby's Vantage Vue in Toronto, Canada, looked on December 22.

3. Jerry Ryan posted this photo of his Indianapolis Vantage Pro2. "Snow covered, but still working!" he boasted.

4. Darin Ziegler, of Colorado Springs, has an owl-emometer. This wonderful shot of a beautiful Great Horned Owl, lit by the moonlight, proves the Vantage Pro2's wind cups spin easily with a big old owl sitting on top. Not too sure about the vane...Darin's wind direction was probably a little off that night.

5. Bruce Mason's new Vantage Pro2 was nice and cozy a few days before December 25. No rain collector heater needed as it had its own cat-heater. However by Christmas Day, someone had it up and reporting nice low temps in Driggs, Idaho.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 1:

True or False: Hedwig, the owl in the Harry Potter movies, was played by Great Horned Owls, like the one in Darin Ziegler's photo.

(Click here for answers.)

Vantage Vue Faces Georgia's Ice Storm

Jim Asher's Vantage Vue had a rough time this month. When an ice storm hit Georgia on February 12, schools closed, traffic snarled, and workers stayed home, but Jim's Vantage Vue didn't miss a beat.

"All totaled, I recorded 1.52 inches of rain that resulted in approximately 0.5 inches [1.3 cm] of ice with another 0.5 inches of snow. Through it all, my Vantage Vue continued to record wind speeds with a top sustained speed at the height of the storm of 16 mph [26 kph]. Having access to up-to-the-minute weather data made dealing with the eventual loss of power that much easier. Thank you for producing such a remarkable product."

You are very welcome, Jim!

Vantage Pro2 Likes Missouri's Good Days...and its Bad Days

Bill Uher, of southeast Missouri, sent us some photos of his Vantage Pro2. We like this one, which he beautifully stylized, because it looks like it ought to be hanging in a fine art museum.

We also like how Bill has cleverly used his "ex-utillity" pole to get the anemometer up there (you have to squint, or just trust us, it's up there) where NOAA siting standards say it should be. (He could lower the rain collector to about 6' off the grass. Then he'd have the temp/hum at a NOAA standard level, AND have easier access to the rain collector!)

But we also like the ones of the station on a less perfect Missouri day, when a clear coating of ice makes the station look like it just rose out of a pond, dripping. We say, "Brrrrr, Sir."

Bill has two consoles and uploads to the WeatherLink Network.

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AnemometerWEATHER 101

Blame It On the Jet Stream

Welcome to sunny Sochi, home of the Summer Olympics! We mean WINTER Olympics. Sorry, we were just checking our Weatherlink Network for our Vantage Pro2 on the roof of Fisht Stadium in Sochi. Looks sort of summery to us...

Apparently, Mother Nature decided to throw some extra challenges to the athletes by giving them sunny days and
warm temps, along with nice crunchy, slushy, icy ski runs. Surprisingly, though, the most difficult to deal with
weather phenomenon was fog, which caused snowboarding and biathalon events to be rescheduled or postponed.

Only a few spectators, wearing tank tops and basking in the sunshine seemed very pleased with the weather.

Sochi is not shocked by tank tops. In fact, bathing suits (or less, though nude/topless bathing is illegal) are the uniform of the day for most of the year in this resort town on the Black Sea. Called the Russian Riviera, Sochi lies in a humid subtropical region so winters are normally milder than much of Russia. In fact, what is rare is a day when it actually gets below freezing, any time of year.

(Not far from the palm trees of Sochi is the ski resort Kranaya Polyana, the Red Valley, about 70 km (43 miles) from Sochi. Just add altitude and you get plenty of snow on the slopes where the outdoor ski events are held. For these Olympics, the snow was plentiful but crunchy with ice as it melted in the warm sunshine then refroze overnight.)

The warm weather has been hard on the athletes because they don't know what to expect. They have had to figure out style changes and equipment modifications. When you are at the very top of your stress level, you don't really need the weather to come along and add some more. But that said, no one expects winter weather to be predictable, and the Winter Olympic games have always included some weather adjustments and rescheduling and adaptations by athletes. In this, according to the IOC, Sochi was less weather-affected than other Winter Olympic locations.

The warm weather in Sochi is unusual, but lately, unusual has been the usual! Most of the world can get on the "unusual weather" bandwagon, and many of us can blame the same weather phenomenon: the polar jet stream, that river of air that zips west to east across the top of the Earth. The extreme cold in the eastern and southern United States, the drought in California, and the flooding in the UK are all linked to a "kink" in the polar jet stream.

(The "kink" has caused much woe in the United States by pulling the Polar Vortex down and with it, plenty of cold misery in the East and South. Graham Males, who uses a Vantage Pro2 and WeatherLinkIP, sent us this portrait of the Polar Vortex he created. "I wrote a script that took the station data from WeatherLink.com's Google Map and re-processed it into a Google Earth KML file. This allowed me to see all the stations at once without them being grouped together. It created an interesting image where you could see how cold all the country is at once (as well as the frontal boundaries.")

The polar jet stream is a narrow band (just a few hundred feet wide) whipping around the earth at about 7 -12 km above sea level. It carries typical winds of 90 kph/59 mph to as fast as 398 kph/247 mph. It is created by a combination of the Earth's rotation and atmospheric heating -- when the heated air of the mid-latitudes meets the cold air of the north, the Earth spins it into a tube of wind.

Jennifer Francis,an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University, has recently made some waves by proposing that this extreme weather is the result of what she calls Arctic amplification. The theory states that the Arctic is warming much faster than we had thought, up to twice as fast as the mid-latitudes. As it warms, the difference in temperature between it and the lower latitudes weakens the polar jet stream winds and makes the stream waver around, dipping lower in some spots (like the Atlantic coast of the United States), higher in others (like Sochi or Alaska), dumping moisture onto Wales and England, and blocking Pacific storms in the northwest.

Check out this video on the Whitehouse.gov site. In it, Dr. John Holdren, President Obama's science advisor, presents a good explanation of the polar vortex and its role in the extreme weather we've seen, and he incorporates the theory of Arctic amplification. He tells us we can expect more of the same.

But not all scientists are sure Dr. Francis is right. Some believe Arctic warming alone is not enough to cause the wavering jet stream.

Whether it's Arctic amplification or some other combination of phenomena, one thing we can count on is that we are probably going to be seeing a lot more "unusual" weather. Maybe we need to think of another term, one that means, "the usual unusualness."

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 2:

True or False:
Sochi is in Europe.

Extra Credit: Is Earth the only planet with a jet stream?

Extra Extra Credit: Is there just one jet stream?

Bonus Genius Question: Hawaiians, out there in the middle of the Pacific all alone and unprotected, may have a special affection for the jet stream. Why?

(Click here for answers.)

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AnemometerTECH TIPS

Please Don't Over-Rotate Your Antenna

It's just so sad! We see them way too often, a Vantage Pro2 console in the prime of its young life, arriving at our repair center with its antenna dangling uselessly. Another victim of OARS (Overactive Antenna Rotation Syndrome).

The Vantage Pro2 console antenna is designed to rotate 180 degrees, not 360. From the down position, you can rotate it up, toward the front of the console, until is is straight up. But that's it! To bring it down, rotate it forward and down, not backward. Sometimes console owners will force the antenna backward, in an effort to point the antenna downward. And that's when we get a phone call and prepare to receive another pitiful patient into our repair department.

To reiterate: the console's antenna should be (generally) parallel to the antenna on the Integrated Sensor Suite. It does not rotate 360° and should not be forced backward.

This applies to Weather Envoy as well.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 3:

True or False: One way to improve the communication between the Integrated Sensor Suite and the console is to cover the antenna tip with aluminum foil.

(Click here for answers.)

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AnemometerI spy a davis weather station

Look Who Has a Cameo in Innovative Verizon Ad

Click here to watch!

Chinese Observatory Has a Vantage Pro2

Ed Wiebe shared a lovely link on our Facebook page.

Click through to the Atmospheric Optics page to see a stunning photo by Jeff Dai of iridescent clouds over the Yunnan Astronomical Observatory, China. Something else almost as beautiful is on the roof of the observatory.

Ed wrote, "I was admiring the clouds at first and didn't notice."

We noticed. But we noticed those gorgeous clouds, too.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 4:

Our recipe for cloud iridescence needs some clarification. Help us out.

  1. Make sure it is morning/afternoon.
  2. Find a thunderstorm on a hot day/snowstorm on a cold day.
  3. Start with thick/thin clouds.
  4. Make sure the cloud droplets are different sizes/uniformly sized.
  5. Make sure the water or ice droplets are big/small.
  6. Look at the cloud with the sun directly behind it/with sun blocked by a building or with sunglasses.

(Click here for answers.)

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AnemometerJust for fun

Now, Where is Australia Again?

Australians are just too nice. While we are sure ALL of them who read our last newsletter noticed our gaffe, only one, Robert Crawford, of Welshpool, Western Australia, oh-so-tactfully and sweetly mentioned it.

Robert wrote, "It might be winter time where you are, but cyclones visit Australia in summer ('coz we're in the Southern Hemisphere.)"

Drat and darn, we know where you are, Robert. It's just that the day we were writing the E-News, we were experimenting with our new yoga inversion sling.

Andrew Lark, of Bell, New South Wales, even wrote to thank us for the December newsletter. "Sometimes I feel a bit left out down here in Australia," he wrote, "It was a pleasant surprise to read your explanation of our unique Christmas weather down under."

When we asked if he had noticed anything, um, amiss, about the article, he tactfully responded, "You mean the reference to wintertime cyclones?"

Andrew went on to tell us about his Vantage Vue which watches over his property at 1,100 meters (3,600 feet). Last year in October, the Vantage Vue had nearly a foot of rare snow dumped on it. This year, fires burnt much of his property. Luckily, only fences were lost as Andrew had cleared his land and had fire fighting pumps and hoses at the ready.

"We stayed and defended our home, assisted by three water bombing helicopters working constantly on our property for several hours along with half a dozen fire tankers -- a valiant effort by our mostly volunteer fire brigades. All in all we were incredibly lucky, if the wind hadn't shifted a few degrees on the Thursday when conditions were at their worst, we would have been over run by fire at incredible speed with the fire being pushed along by reasonably strong westerly winds. We watched the fire spread past our property at a frightening pace, seeing it go over 10 kilometers (6.5 miles) in 10 minutes! The fire eventually made it on to our property on the Saturday and continued to pester us for over a week as it burned uncontrolled in the rugged countryside surrounding our property."

That kind of weather is maybe too interesting for our taste, Andrew.

Weather Oddities and Surprises

Ever heard of snowthunder? How about ice volcano or ice chandeliering? Here's a cool list of "11 Alarming Weather Flukes that Happen When it Gets Really Cold," by Ria Misra on IO9.

Weatherman Jim Cantore knows about snowthunder. Here's a clip of him reacting on camera in Chicago, back in 2011.

Kind of makes us glad we decided not sign that lucrative contract as an on-air weather personality. If fact, while we're sitting here all snug and dry, let's click through to see a few other weather reporters demonstrate the power of hurricanes, microphone in hand, as they topple, dunk, sputter, and hang on for dear life.

  • Jeff Morrow reporting on Hurricane Wilma (10/05), from behind a roof column. (We wonder what the cameraman is hanging on to.)
  • Stephanie Abrams has a near miss with a bit of roof debris pitched at her by Hurricane Frances in Myrna Beach, Florida, 2008.
  • Al Roker believes two people will be harder for Hurricane Frances to dislodge, so he holds on tight in West Palm Beach, Florida, 2008.
  • Mark Boyle is too busy talking to even notice when Hurricane Ike rips the roof off behind him in Galveston, Texas, 2008.
  • This poor reporter got tossed, head first into the bushes by Ike.
  • A whole slew of reporters were tossed and bumped by Hurricane Sandy (New Jersey, New York 2012).
  • Julie Martin gets lifted, screaming, into an SUV by Hurricane Dolly (South Padre Island, 2008)
  • But Geraldo Rivera got the worst of it when Hurricane Ike dunked him, microphone and all, right in front of a bunch of first responders.

We think these weather reporters know how to do it right...

Earthshine on Mars

We just had to share a link to a wonderful image of the Earth and our moon shining in the Martian sky delivered by Curiosity in the LA Times.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 5:

According to MarsWeather.com ("All Martian weather, all the time!") the main modifier of the Earth's climate is water clouds. What do they say is the main modifier of the Martian climate?

(Click here for answers.)

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 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.


Question 1: True or False: Hedwig, the owl in the Harry Potter movies, was played by all Great Horned owls, like the one in Darin Ziegler's photo.

Nope. Whoooo would have thought they were all Snowy Owls? It's because of their very striking white color. (And the owl-actors were are all males, because the males have fewer dark bars in their plumage.)

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Question 2: True or False: Sochi is in Europe.

Say false if you want to be annoying. If you use the strict definition of the crest of the Caucasus Mountains as the division between Europe and Asia, it's in Asia. But it is geopolitically in Russia, which is in Europe.

Extra Credit: Is Earth the only planet with a jet stream?

No. We know Jupiter has several.

Extra Extra Credit: Is there just one jet stream?

No. The Northern and Southern Hemispheres each have polar and subtropical jets, though the Southern Hemisphere's polar jet stream tends to circulate very close to the pole. The strongest is the Northern Hemisphere's polar jet stream. It can sometimes merge with the weaker and higher subtropical jet. The streams can sometimes split into two "branches." Other jets can form, occasionally at lower levels and with easterly winds.

Bonus Genius Question: Hawaiians may have a special affection for the jet stream. Why?

It has been suggested that the jet stream has protected Hawaii from hurricanes. They tend to approach but don't land. According to Richard A. Lovette in the National Geographic News, the upper level jet stream winds "tend to rip the tops of the hurricanes and disperse them."

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Question 3: True or False: One way to improve the communication between the Integrated Sensor Suite (ISS) and the console is to cover the antenna tip with aluminum foil.

Sure, right after you force it backward and break it. Aluminum foil is for sandwiches, not radios. You can improve communication by:

  1. Making sure your console is "listening" to the right ISS. (See the December 2013 issue of the E-News.)
  2. Reducing the range by getting your console closer to the ISS.
  3. Reducing RF (radio frequency) interference. (Such as moving the console away from large appliances with motors that can create RF "noise.")
  4. Reducing barriers (such as hills and thick, metal-containing walls).
  5. Installing a Standard Wireless Repeater.

>> Back to Menu

Question 4: Our recipe for cloud iridescence needs some clarification:

  1. Make sure it is afternoon.
  2. Find a thunderstorm on a hot day.
  3. Start with thin clouds.
  4. Make sure the cloud droplets are uniformly sized.
  5. Make sure the water or ice droplets are small.
  6. Look at the cloud with the sun blocked by a building or with sunglasses.

>> Back to Menu

Question 5: What is the main modifier of the Martian climate?

Dust in the atmosphere.

>> Back to Menu


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

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