A Letter to Mother Nature: a book review

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 11:52 AM GMT on June 05, 2012

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One of the features of wunderground.com that I'm most proud of is one all of you can take credit for--our wunderphotos. Each day, users of the web site upload an average of 500 - 600 photos of some of the most beautiful and spectacular natural phenomena on the planet. We all share the same atmosphere, and one really gets a sense of that connection when we look at the wunderphotos, which come from every corner of the planet. Since 2003, 1.5 million wunderphotos have been uploaded, with over half a million just in the past three years. We have a dedicated team of volunteer reviewers that screen each photo, and I owe a big thank-you to all of you who have served as wunderphoto moderators. One of our most dedicated wunderphotographers, Lucy Woodley (wunderhandle: observing), was inspired to collect a set of 90 of her favorite wunderphotos and put them into a book. Her effort, A Letter to Mother Nature, was published this May. Each photo in the book has a sentence above it, poetically describing the scene below. It only takes a few minutes to whip through the book, but the spectacular images and thoughtful text invite one to linger longer and contemplate the natural beauty we are surrounded by. Here's a sampling of the text and images from the book, with wunderphotos by SunsetFL, CameraDiva, and Sharrose:

Dear Mother Nature,
Quite simply, I am in awe
of you and here is why...

You remind us to always look up...



...for there are great wonders overhead.



We can't resist dancing in your meadows.




A Letter to Mother Nature is $14.99 (paperback) from amazon.com. Proceeds from sale of the book go to support the disaster relief charity Portlight.org, founded by members of the wunderground community. I give A Letter to Mother Nature my highest rating, five out of five stars.

Rare transit of Venus today
I hope all you wunderphotographers will help document for us today a rare celestial happening--a transit of Venus across the sun. On June 5th at 3:09 pm PDT, Venus will begin a historic 7-hour transit of the solar disk, appearing as a dark spot against the sun's blazing face. This will be the last transit of Venus across the sun until 2117. As always, when viewing the sun, be sure to do it indirectly, or use a proper filter such as a #14 welder's glass to block the sun's eye-damaging rays. NASA.gov has more info. I'll link the best wunderphotographs taken of today's transit at the bottom of this post tonight and Wednesday morning. Below is one from Venus' last transit of the sun, back in 2004. Thanks, wunderphotographers!

Jeff Masters

Venis in transit (tillerdog)
Venus in transit across the sun June 8, 2004. Taken at sun rise in Flagler Beach Floirda ( USA ) with a 850mm lens by photojournalist Jim Tiller.
Venis in transit
Transit of Venus (redtim)
Transit of Venus from the Wunderground Office
Transit of Venus
Venus Sunset 7 (Nikongranny)
Venus across the sun during a cloudy evening.
Venus Sunset 7
Transit of Venus (LaddObservatory)
Despite thick clouds we were able to capture a brief glimpse of the planet Venus transiting the Sun. This image was taken with a modern digital camera attached to the historic Ladd Observatory telescope (1891) The clouds thinned just enough to capture this one image at 6:21:38 PM EDT, just moments after second contact.
Transit of Venus
Venus and sunspots at sunset (Llamadave)
I took this from a telescope projection on a white surface in West Lafayette, IN
Venus and sunspots at sunset
Transit of Venus 2012 (Guruchild)
I used a first generation canon digital rebel, a 300mm telephoto lens, a circular polarizing filter, and the low atmosphere to capture this beautiful amateur photograph of Venus dotting the Sun's disc.
Transit of Venus 2012
Venus transit (milfeld)
Venus transit

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Some ensembles show a hurricane in the Gulf and over Florida...





...and other show nothing...





Most are consistent with at least a low in the Gulf of Mexico though.
something interesting IS going on in the gulf alright, watching it closely now,unusual for us to be getting days and days of rain this early on, usually just an afternoon seabreeze storm or two, not this week though
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39248
Some ensembles show a hurricane in the Gulf and over Florida...





...and other show nothing...





Most are consistent with at least a low in the Gulf of Mexico though.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
SHORT TERM FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAMPA BAY AREA - RUSKIN FL
1205 PM EDT WED JUN 6 2012

FLZ042-043-048-049-051-052-061700-
POLK-SUMTER-CITRUS-HERNANDO-PASCO-HILLSBOROUGH-
1205 PM EDT WED JUN 6 2012

.NOW...

A FEW THUNDERSTORMS AND SCATTERED SHOWERS WITH STRONG WINDS OF 25 TO
30 MPH...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 30 MPH...WILL AFFECT PLANT CITY...
LACOOCHEE...DADE CITY NORTH...DADE CITY AND SAN ANTONIO...UNTIL 100
PM EDT. GUSTY WINDS...SMALL HAIL...LOCALLY HEAVY RAIN...AND
DANGEROUS LIGHTNING IS EXPECTED.

$$

09/RKR
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39248
Quoting ncstorm:
The GFS Ensembles show the "blob" generating a low and crossing florida

S/N..if I lived near the GOM area, I would be paying attention to the GFS ensemble runs..it got some strong storms in the GOM..yes, some of the runs are far out but evident on a lot of frames during that time period



yes watching it closely now, ty for the heads up
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39248
Quoting ncstorm:
The GFS Ensembles show the "blob" generating a low and crossing florida

S/N..if I lived near the GOM area, I would be paying attention to the GFS ensemble runs..it got some strong storms in the GOM..yes, some of the runs are far out but evident on a lot of frames during that time period




Link
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
The GFS Ensembles show the "blob" generating a low and crossing florida

S/N..if I lived near the GOM area, I would be paying attention to the GFS ensemble runs..it got some strong storms in the GOM..yes, some of the runs are far out but evident on a lot of frames during that time period



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Quoting hurricanejunky:


We received .57" overnight here in North Fort Myers and it looks like more is coming. I would have expected more up to now considering how large and persistent the areas of convection have been in the Western and Central GOM. Looks like something is trying to fire up but no circles from the NHC and I guess that's because nothing is happening at the surface.


Looking like some banding is trying to take shape with this feature in the Gulf but still has a long way to go developement wise. Either way I wouldn't be surprised to see some totals near 10" by Friday evening as this mess moves into West C FL & SW FL. It seems these event are always under estimated by the HPC as was the case last Friday when Tampa got nearly 3".
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39248
Quoting Jedkins01:



Hey man, the good news is, not only will there be plenty of heavy rain around Thursday and Friday but the models are backing off on the drying this weekend and are keeping deep moisture in place through the weekend into next week. Of course not as numerous as Thursday and Friday but daily buildup of scattered activity is a given.


I've been thinking for days that it's likely the models will back off on the drying as days draw near because every time fronts come down during the wet season they tend to linger around longer than originally anticipated and usually moisture remains and only some slight drying and a wind shift occurs, but usually moisture remains plenty high enough for thunderstorms.



I was thinking this a couple of days ago when the GFS wanting to create a similar situation to last weekend. It just didn't seem right given the current pattern developing.
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


We received .57" overnight here in North Fort Myers and it looks like more is coming. I would have expected more up to now considering how large and persistent the areas of convection have been in the Western and Central GOM. Looks like something is trying to fire up but no circles from the NHC and I guess that's because nothing is happening at the surface.


Am watching small weak vorticy like feature ESE of Brownsville/south of Lake Charles, LA in West central Gulf. visible loop shows it.
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.............................pouring rain here now, sun was out for a lil bit this morning, got the grass cutting done, now its relax time
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39248
Quoting TomTaylor:
Not gonna lie, this post was hard to read with the grammar errors. However, I think I understand what you are saying and you misinterpreted my post. I wasn't saying he was the best, or the first to point out correct formation dates or any of that. All I was saying is that when he picks his dates, suddenly I see those dates being used by many more people. I know people use his dates because they always have solid reasoning behind them, but I have noticed people will get down to his exact wording (i.e. May 20th to June 5th or, more recently, June 15th to June 20th), just find it interesting how big of an influence he has on the blog.

Just something I've noticed reading through the blogs, nothing wrong with it though.

Or you know, some people could be using the MJO forecast or model runs for certain dates. ;)

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting StormTracker2K:
And this is coming tonight thru Friday. This area of convection could move into FL and dump several inches of rain over the next 48 hours.



We received .57" overnight here in North Fort Myers and it looks like more is coming. I would have expected more up to now considering how large and persistent the areas of convection have been in the Western and Central GOM. Looks like something is trying to fire up but no circles from the NHC and I guess that's because nothing is happening at the surface.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


Yeah and here's todays forecast.

EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
912 AM EDT WED JUN 6 2012

.DISCUSSION...
LATEST PARAMETERS ON SOUNDING WITH HIGHER AVAILABLE MOISTURE COUPLED
WITH STRONG WINDS (50 TO 55 KT AT H7) SUPPORT POTENTIAL FOR SOME
STRONG STORMS.
CURRENT ACTIVITY WEST OF THE AREA WILL BE WATCHED AS
IT CROSSES INTO ECFL DURING THE COURSE OF THE MORNING INTO THE
AFTERNOON. INCREASED INSTABILITY WITH SOME HEATING FROM ORANGE
COUNTY AND CENTRAL BREVARD COUNTIES NORTHWARD WILL INCREASE THE
POTENTIAL FOR STRONG SFC WIND GUSTS OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS. WL
UPDATE FORECAST SHORTLY TO INCREASE RAIN CHCS AND OTHER ELEMENTS.




Hey man, the good news is, not only will there be plenty of heavy rain around Thursday and Friday but the models are backing off on the drying this weekend and are keeping deep moisture in place through the weekend into next week. Of course not as numerous as Thursday and Friday but daily buildup of scattered activity is a given.


I've been thinking for days that it's likely the models will back off on the drying as days draw near because every time fronts come down during the wet season they tend to linger around longer than originally anticipated and usually moisture remains and only some slight drying and a wind shift occurs, but usually moisture remains plenty high enough for thunderstorms.
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Oh it's better than last year for sure....

It's only just bringing you back up to par, so any long stretch dry spell puts you right back down in the hole much faster than normal. Last night near the grocery store crape myrtle (huge one) was drooping bad, tells me right there were still in bad shape, even after 25" of rain
Rain is kind of like what have you done for me lately. Monday will be 4 weeks without rain here, the middle of May to middle of June is our wettest time of the year but not even a trace so far with temps in mid to upper 90s. Here in South Central Texas we average a good 4 to 5 inches during this period of time. Knowing that if we don't get rain in early to middle June then that would be 6 weeks without rain then I am looking at last part of June and all of July and August near or above 100. Lake Travis is still only half full so when you come out of a drought and in a year where majority are 20 to 30 inches behind in rain it is very difficult outside a tropical system to catch up. The average rainfall here in July and August is next to nothing unless a tropical system moves this way, other than that 60 days of clear and hot is the norm. Weather usually changes in middle to later part of September when temps drop below 100.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


thats not totally correct
after the beryl roll i was the first to declare anytime from the 9 to the 13
will be the next time for storm dev
way before levi or anyone else for that matter said so
as a matter of fact a backdoor system
will drift down into the sw tropical atlantic simlar to our first two
with main dev occuring in the south boc or nw carb with this dev that should occur along bahamas or off east fla coast i have been playing this game a long time since 1979 with my first david at the time i belive levi was 2 at the time.
so before you start beaking off best make sure what the beaking off is about first
Not gonna lie, this post was hard to read with the grammar errors. However, I think I understand what you are saying and you misinterpreted my post. I wasn't saying he was the best, or the first to point out correct formation dates or any of that. All I was saying is that when he picks his dates, suddenly I see those dates being used by many more people. I know people use his dates because they always have solid reasoning behind them, but I have noticed people will get down to his exact wording (i.e. May 20th to June 5th or, more recently, June 15th to June 20th), just find it interesting how big of an influence he has on the blog.

Just something I've noticed reading through the blogs, nothing wrong with it though.
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Didn't forget her, just couldn't come up with the show at the time - Alice? And there's a Florence and the Machine or something like that - played in StL recently. Don't know if that's her real name, but.. a more modern Florence regardless.
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Quoting dabirds:
Florence Nightinggale, Henderson,& Progressive Insurance's Flo - short for Florence. But, not many recently, I'll give you that.


Don't forget this one. She's on the left.

Link

If you weren't alive in 1980, you likely won't know.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


You would think after 25" so far this year things would be OK there but maybe not since last years drought was so severe.



Oh it's better than last year for sure....

It's only just bringing you back up to par, so any long stretch dry spell puts you right back down in the hole much faster than normal. Last night near the grocery store crape myrtle (huge one) was drooping bad, tells me right there were still in bad shape, even after 25" of rain
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Yea on a man made numbers scheme. Reality is totally different


You would think after 25" so far this year things would be OK there but maybe not since last years drought was so severe.

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Quoting Chucktown:
Actually this may give everyone a better idea of what the head of NHC makes or the MIC at SPC. Both positions are minimum G-13 and above.

Link


GS-13 is what a senior forecaster at a NWS River Forecast Center makes. Should be the same for WFOs as well. Management at one of those offices is in the GS14-15 range, so I'd imagine that the head of a national center is making more than that. They may be on a different pay scale, like the Senior Executive Service pay scale.
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Tropical Storm Kuena strengthened pretty fast last night and is now up to 50 mph. It is only forecast to strengthen slightly (50 kt, 60 mph). Not sure why it is forecast to weaken afterwards as wind shear is relatively low and Sea Surface Temperatures are warm.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Rain please come to Baton Rouge!
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


Great post! SE TX seems to be sitting pretty good to me so far this year rain wise.


Yea on a man made numbers scheme. Reality is totally different
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Quoting ncstorm:


according to this website, norfolk is brushed or hit every 2.46 years by hurricanes..

I have to agree on Tampa being number one..maybe the website is taken into account of the levies in NO and its reasoning at number 3..


I would like to know if that 'vulnerability' rating takes into account number of years since a significant hit. Seems it should, because that means the amount of complacency, slack in preparation, unsound structures and over-grown trees, etc are all factors in the human and economic impact of such an event when if finally occurs.

Anyone here in FL in 2004-2005 saw this first hand, as the first two storms that crossed the state (Charely & Frances) took out nearly *all* the low-hanging fruit far as weak trees, buildings and trailers that were already unfit to survive even a 25mph wind. It seems a lot of work done by 'handymen' and 'weekend warriors' was put to the test... and failed.
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894. Skyepony (Mod)
~20 dead & about 100 injured from dust storm in Pakistan.
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Quoting Sangria:
We all have our own perspectives of our rainfall/lack of...generally, we see it more as a "glass half empty" view.....looks like most of TX and a majority of LA are sitting pretty good right now....rest of the Southeast needs a little help....

Actual rainfall for YTD




Departure from Normal YTD



Great post! SE TX seems to be sitting pretty good to me so far this year rain wise.
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Quoting Skyepony:


Great pics. Bad day for big diseased trees.


Yeah and here's todays forecast.

EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
912 AM EDT WED JUN 6 2012

.DISCUSSION...
LATEST PARAMETERS ON SOUNDING WITH HIGHER AVAILABLE MOISTURE COUPLED
WITH STRONG WINDS (50 TO 55 KT AT H7) SUPPORT POTENTIAL FOR SOME
STRONG STORMS.
CURRENT ACTIVITY WEST OF THE AREA WILL BE WATCHED AS
IT CROSSES INTO ECFL DURING THE COURSE OF THE MORNING INTO THE
AFTERNOON. INCREASED INSTABILITY WITH SOME HEATING FROM ORANGE
COUNTY AND CENTRAL BREVARD COUNTIES NORTHWARD WILL INCREASE THE
POTENTIAL FOR STRONG SFC WIND GUSTS OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS. WL
UPDATE FORECAST SHORTLY TO INCREASE RAIN CHCS AND OTHER ELEMENTS.

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Someone mentioned earlier of the swirl in the gulf, it's ESE of Brownsville and south of LA, weak circulation
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We all have our own perspectives of our rainfall/lack of...generally, we see it more as a "glass half empty" view.....looks like most of TX and a majority of LA are sitting pretty good right now....rest of the Southeast needs a little help....

Actual rainfall for YTD




Departure from Normal YTD

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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:

You know a GIRL named Florence?

Florence is dominantly a girls name.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting JrWeathermanFL:

You know a GIRL named Florence?
Florence Nightinggale, Henderson,& Progressive Insurance's Flo - short for Florence. But, not many recently, I'll give you that.
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887. Tygor
Oh sweet another system that misses San Antonio. Maybe we'll get some rain in July?
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886. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting StormTracker2K:
Orlando


Great pics. Bad day for big diseased trees.
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:

You know a GIRL named Florence?


Did you forget about Flo the Progressive Insurance gal?
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:

You know a GIRL named Florence?

Actually, two of them.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
This is from OIA as a second round developed last evening.



Wow... a rain shaft.
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Quoting LargoFl:



Slight diff of opinion between HPC and TWC. By HPC discussion, models differ and theirs is a blend. Slow training storms are gonna drop a lot of rain somewhere with rates of 1-1.5 in per hour in places, per NWS Norman. Train's been chuggin' on all morning in SW and SCentral OK.
Day 1 QPF
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Quoting STXHurricanes2012:
Did you forget about daytime heating? lol


Yes
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880. Skyepony (Mod)
Excellent Venus pics up in here:)


TRMM pass of Mawar east of Japan. Click pic for movie.
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Did you forget about daytime heating? lol
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Not sure how NOLA is number 3 when it sits BELOW SEA LEVEL. Norfolk Virginia? a storm would have to hit at an angle moving inland, most storms up there parallel the coast...


according to this website, norfolk is brushed or hit every 2.46 years by hurricanes..

I have to agree on Tampa being number one..maybe the website is taken into account of the levies in NO and its reasoning at number 3..
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Once the blob in the eastern gulf moves east, we're right back to a dry sunny gulf. Rain anyone? fughettabouddit


Convection is forecast to continue to fire in the Gulf thru next week and that is when an ULL that is near you could actually stack up on top of a surface low in the eastern Gulf.

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Wow... look at all the rain over TX and along I-10 to Florida......oh I mean lack there of
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Quoting txjac:



LOL ...Come on Rita ...with the way that things are going if this does develop its on its way to Florida!


Once the blob in the eastern gulf moves east, we're right back to a dry sunny gulf. Rain anyone? fughettabouddit
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874. txjac
Quoting jeffs713:

Uh... last time I checked. You know a guy named Florence?


Actually I do ...one of our customers!
I always found it odd too!
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873. txjac
Quoting RitaEvac:
If something did happen at this location in gulf, just where would it go is the mystery




LOL ...Come on Rita ...with the way that things are going if this does develop its on its way to Florida!
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And this is coming tonight thru Friday. This area of convection could move into FL and dump several inches of rain over the next 48 hours.

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Quoting ncstorm:
Top 5 Most Vulnerable U.S. Cities To Hurricanes

Climate Central | June 6, 2012 4:31 a.m.
Discuss

Climate Central

The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season is officially underway, and while Hurricane Katrina has tended to fade from memory, New Orleans isn’t the only major U.S. city at risk, although it remains extremely vulnerable. As Hurricane Irene demonstrated in 2011, weaker hurricanes can also do significant damage in places that are not used to experiencing such storms. Many American coastal cities are essentially sitting ducks to hurricanes, with millions of Americans living at water’s edge, exposed to high winds and flooding.

Some of these communities, like New Orleans and Houston, have experienced powerful storms during the past decade. Others, like Miami and Tampa, have been spared the brunt of landfalling storms during recent hurricane seasons.
TOP 5 MOST VULNERABLE CITIES

No. 1- Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla. No. 2- Miami, Fla. No. 3- New Orleans, La. No. 4- Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Va. No. 5- Houston/Galveston, Texas



Not sure how NOLA is number 3 when it sits BELOW SEA LEVEL. Norfolk Virginia? a storm would have to hit at an angle moving inland, most storms up there parallel the coast...
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Orlando
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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