Sunday, September 02, 2007

We're not in Peoria, anymore, Toto!

(Antelope Valley) 2 September 2007

According to the National Weather Service, two small tornadoes touched down briefly, yesterday, a few miles from this writer's residence. It was, however, old news to Karyn R. Pierce, Weather Deputy. (Although I am known by the earlier mentioned Fire Marshall Margaret [a rarely used first name], I am also known as Weather Commander Margaret; obviously I was required to deputize Ms. Pierce so that she could assume full responsibility for recording the changes in weather when I am not around). She fulfilled her duties admirably, yesterday, and tried to capture the events on the video herein. (Not herein)

As Ms. Pierce tells it, she was on her way to the screen room in our backyard with a big glass of iced tea and the portable telephone. Planning to cool off and call me at the same time, she reached up to unlock the screen room doors, when a sudden and powerful series of short gusts of wind blew the entire contents of the desert into her glass of iced tea, or so it seemed. The gusts ended as quickly as they had begun, Ms. Pierce fed her tea to the thirsty Lobelia, and turned to go back in the house to get a fresh glass of tea.

As she looked toward the east, she could see that a dark and threatening sky had materialized, a rainbow was lying sideways in the sky and two dark plumes of swirling clouds appeared on the horizon. Pierce grabbed her camera, shooed the dogs indoors, forgot about the tea and recorded about a minute and a half of what turned out to be two small tornadoes, that touched down about 5 miles from our home. Unfortunately, I'm unable to upload the video. When I get that figured out, you'll see a couple flashes of lightening and two down shafts of dark clouds. As Ms. Pierce had no script, and certainly didn't expect to see her efforts uploaded to the world-wide web (as if more than 7 people even read this blog!), she has requested that readers try to ignore her play-by-play during this dramatic event, which shouldn't be hard for you as you won't be seeing her movie.

Shortly after this film that you can't see was shot, Director Pierce noticed that the television had gone off, as had the air conditioner and all other appliances. She put the portable phone down, fired up her cell phone and called this writer to give her the official weather report. This is the director's first video, and she reluctantly allowed me to post it here, despite serious misgivings about its quality. What she ought to have had misgivings about was my inability to get the thing on the blog! Nevertheless, I applaud her effort and encourage Deputy Pierce to "keep up the good work" with her, Canon.

Although I grew up in Illinois...Peoria, actually, tornadoes were a seasonal fact of life on the prairies. But, regrettably, I never actually saw one as they were always landing in nearby places like Galesburg and Farmington and other towns where I had relatives I rarely saw either. Still, I envied them their weather experiences.

Meanwhile, as exciting as the tornadoes were yesterday, on a local basis, I read about an odd one recently. A tornedo-warmed, bat-eating supercell over an area in South Texas caught some free-tailed bats by surprise as they took their evening constitution, March 19, 2006. About a 100 million bats live in the limestone condo caves on the Edwards plateau. Every late afternoon and evening they swarm in the skies for a massive insect buffet.

On this particular evening, they apparently did not realize a severe thunderstorm had formed in Mexico, about 60 nautical miles to the Southwest. As the weather crossed the Rio Grande, it struck rich soil and instability and began to rotate. It then made a right turn and headed precisely toward the lower end of the bat swarm. Radar from Del Rio documented both the storm and the bat swirl. Bats on radar appear as expanding rings or donuts in the sky as the tiny mammals fly straight up and then outward from their caves.

As the NOAA Storm Prediction Center observed, it's hard to imagine many thousands of bats didn't fail to return home that night. For those that were lucky enough to escape the vortex of the storm, they probably went to bed car sick and hungry. But what a tale to tell the grandkids!See this neat radar image and more details of the story from the Storm Prediction Center .

Whether or not you enjoy weather stories, you have to admit, the weather is definitely changing on this planet. While many of us have experienced our own personal global warming, from time to time, the changes taking place on earth are clearly momentous and deserving of our attention and best efforts.

Oh, and we had an earthquake this morning. It was only a 4.7, and it was nearly 50 miles from where we live, but it does nothing to ameliorate my recently acquired case of "bridge anxiety,"--a hopefully temporary condition in which one is scared to death to cross bridges and go over or under freeway passes that rival the Micky D arches for vertigo-inspiring panic. Or is it panic-inspired vertigo?

And finally, tonight, the mountainous terrain in the Angeles National Forest, not far from the small ranch community of Acton, was up in flames again. This area is about 10 miles from us, but the smoke blew into our Valley with a vengeance. I could see 50-foot flames from the freeway. Nearby Soledad Canyon Road, at the bottom of the Soledad Canyon was the detour route a few weeks ago when the Agua Dulce Fire closed the Antelope Valley Freeway.

I have to ask my friend Robin about that videoblog stuff, and see if she notices how terribly calm I remained upon realizing that the video, for which this entire entry was written, then re-rewritten, then really re-written, was, at the end of a very long day, unseen by all who read here. I'd like to thank all seven of you for your patience. (*;#=+%$#&*).


Jo Jardin said...

Am I of the seven readers, or do you have a new one?


Fantastic story! I am big on weather stories but not a junkie (yet). I too used to live in tornado country (Ohio, Missouri), and remember the nights in the bathtub with the cat and the matress on top (refugee sandwich). Glad to hear that all is well.

T.T. Thomas said...

Actually, Jo, you are one of the seven, but I'd like to acknowledge publicly that I suspect I have several "lurkers." One of my favs is in Peoria, another couple favs are in Newark, CA, several favs are in the Hayward Hills, CA, and rumor has it my two fav sisters (I only have two)wander in now and then. Mary, I got your call about the fire in Acton. Uh, Belles, you really must keep up with the blog!That fire was so yesterday!

Glad you dropped in, Jo. I love weather, despite how often it happens when I'm not home!

Belles said...

So I said to myself, what does she mean the fire in Acton was so yesterday?! I woke up this morning to find it still very much today. Actually, T, I think you meant, "Mary, you are so yesterday!" See, I would have understood that! Once every so often I pick up Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now," trying desparately to be here, here. But as life would have it, here, here goes there, there and, well, you know the rest! Interesting story about all the bats being blown out of the belfry - wonder what old Eckhart would tell them about THAT now, now. BTW, I loved Deputy Director's non-video - please pass that along to one of my two favs in the High Desert. Love your blog, love your blah, love you babe.

T.T. Thomas said...

Uh, you love my blah, Belles? What blah? Oh, you mean my blah, blah, blah? (laughing) Well, I knew the non-video would get you to post! By the way, as for the power of NOW...get back to me on that...later! However, I will pass on your regards to the film Director. Love you too, blah...I mean, Belles! Glad you showed up 'cause you always make me smile!