The Lurkers Lounge

By: EdwardinAlaska , 12:11 AM GMT on August 25, 2014

The Lurker’s Lounge?
What the heck is that?!?

Well, it’s a blog…. And it’s for those of us who visit the WU blogs but, for whatever reason,  feel like the little kid stuck inside with a cold, with his nose pressed against the window, watching his friends playing outside. Only, in our case, we either don’t know enough about "meteorology" to contribute to the “serious” weather blogs or we’re afraid we’ll make fools of ourselves by posting a comment. So we lurk. Sure, we tell ourselves that some day we're going to really read up on this esoteric stuff so we can feel a part of  the "in crowd." But we know that's a resolution best made on New Year's Day, along with the ones we make about exercising more, using our turn signals, etc..... in other words, about as likely as a hurricane hitting South Dakota....

I mean, seriously, in that one blog you often see a “comment” that consists solely of an image like this: 

Uh….Do you have any idea what that is? Me neither.  I haven't a clue what that is or why it’s of  interest, but apparently it has something to do with tropical storms. For all I know, it’s one of those “magic eye” pictures where you stare at it for a while and start to see some other image. But there’s no way I’m going to post a comment that reveals my ignorance. I skip over those types of images and look for animations of big hurricanes, which are always both enjoyable  to look at and – more important – understandable.

Or you'll see a comment that, without a word of explanation, consists  of a picture like this one, which I suspect also has something to do with a storm system or cold front or what have you, but which I at first thought was a copy of an old road map that someone posted for some obscure reason (maybe to help someone find an evacuation route): The "experts" know what this is, I'm sure. We lurkers? Unlikely.
 In this blog, lurkers are welcome to join in and post anything they want about the weather or about the prospects for tropical systems, and the beauty of it is that you will never be wrong, because the rest of  us probably know less than you!

See, you can tell us that “The TUTT indicates that Invest  107M will track WNW and carries enough convex depreciation to overcome the shear effects of the 850mb low,” and most of us won’t have an inkling of what you’re talking about, let alone have the nerve to contradict you!Or, you can prove a point by reminding us that, “This is virtually the same pattern we saw with Mirna in 1979, except for the presence of the low level SAL oscillation.”

Not sure this is the blog for you? Okay, I understand that you might still be hesitant. Maybe you’re thinking, “Gee, I know this is a weather web site and I’m all into weather and stuff like that, but surely there’s more than weather to talk about….there just has to be….” And you would be right, because on this blog everyone is right.

Suggested topics for this blog include the following. These are just suggestions! Make up your own topic if you like.

  • Why the latest “Invest” will / won’t become a named storm. (Tip: I’m always impressed if anyone uses acronyms and abbreviations. Like “TUTT,” for instance. Or “CONUS.” I also think it’s cool if you can use the word “Doppler“ in a sentence without also using “radar” with it.)
  • Where the latest “Invest” will make landfall. (It will increase your apparent authority enormously if you make this prediction the minute the Invest comes off the west coast of Africa. Ha ha, I didn’t even know what an “Invest” was until I looked it up recently. Now I drop into casual conversations whenever I’m stuck for something to say.)  
  • Why the weather where you live is more fascinating than the weather where the rest of us live.
  • Anything about art. That includes books and little-known but excellent movies, especially foreign ones.
  • Anything you’d like to say about why Breaking Bad was the greatest series ever.
  • Stories about Alaska weather that don’t involve Sarah Palin, driving on a frozen river, or living in a cabin without plumbing.
  • What the fishing is like where you live. If you have any idea how to post photos of fish you caught, by all means do so. I think you have to upload them to some web site first…not sure how that works…probably quite easy, but I’m too shy to post a question that would reveal my ignorance so I’ll probably just look in Wiki Commons for copyright-free photos that resemble the fish I catch….(as if Icatch anything anyway!).
  • Pictures of cool looking clouds, especially if they look like stuff, like elephant  heads or musical instruments or whatever. 
Well, I just realized these are topics I will want to talk about. I wouldn’t be surprised (or offended) if no one else does. Oh well, tons of other blogs to choose from… feel free to lurk, though.... it's our common bond, no?

So, welcome to the blog. We look forward to your input!


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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32. WunderAlertBot
2:41 PM GMT on September 04, 2014
EdwardinAlaska has created a new entry.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
31. EdwardinAlaska
1:47 PM GMT on September 03, 2014
Holiday over, visitors from out of state have gone home, life gets back to what passes for normal....

I did not know until today that Weather Underground had been purchased by the company that owns the Weather Channel,, and various other things. My first reaction was: I guess they (the Wunderground original owners) finally heard an offer that was too good to pass up. Good for them. They cashed in but seemed to have managed to arrange for WU to remain pretty much as it always had been..... other than the site re-vamp, of course.

A few years ago I made one of my infrequent visits to It was one of those times when a little window pops up and asks you to take a survey when you're done viewing the site. I was happy to have the opportunity to tell them how little I enjoyed having to wade through the clutter to find the weather forecast. (I stopped by that site today and saw that it's now a bit easier to locate my local weather. See? I knew they'd listen to me....more people should...)

I forget when WU decided to re-style the site, but when the new design was in a beta version there was a link for anyone who wanted to check it out before it became permanent. There was also one of those "tell us what you think about the new site" links. I told them I thought the beta version was good, even if it would mean taking a few moments to orient myself to where various information was. (I guess there were a few longtime regulars who weren't as favorably impressed..... I saw a thread called something like "I want the classic site back"..... I switched to "classic" view and I can see why some might prefer it.)

I've never really given much thought to how many choices there are for getting weather information and forecasts online:

The NWS site never seemed very well thought out aesthetically, but then that's a government site and expectations should probably be kept low (ha ha, I love how the NHC tropical storm discussions are in all caps and appear to use a Courier font......I'd probably hear a typewriter sound effect if I turned on my computer speakers when looking at that page).

There's also a site called Weather Bug that apparently gets a lot of traffic. It's kind of a hoot. They have all these choices of different forecasts....okay, they're not different, they just have different names. So, I can check the Golf Forecast....or the Family Forecast (still no in-laws showing up for the next 10 days....)....or the Outdoor Nature Forecast (I am not making these up, I swear to you.....the Outdoor Nature Forecast says, "Tip of the Day: Fantastic day to be outside....Considerable cloudiness with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs around 90.".....I bet when it's calling for 75 degrees and sunny it says, "Make sure to take a jacket.").....or the For Her Fashion Forecast (They suggest: short sleeve shirt, shorts, and sandals..... no idea what the For Him Fashion Forecast might be, since they obviously don't think it's important enough to have one, unless the Golf Forecast is meant to be for guys....but still, what to wear...what to wear....if only there was a weather site that would give me some Tips...)..... you get the idea.....

So, not sure how I ended up with the foregoing digressions, but anyway..... I guess I'll stick with WU, even though I now know it's basically the Weather Channel and even if they decide on yet another re-design of the site and even though they don't have Fashion Forecasts that I can count on.... at least they have blogs.... really wish they had an Outdoor Nature forecast, now that I think of it..... Outdoor Nature really is the best kind of Nature, especially in terms of weather and stuff like that.... fingers crossed for the new site to have this feature....
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
30. beell
5:55 PM GMT on August 29, 2014
Hi, Ed.
Nice place you got here!

I think single names are much too limiting. I suggest converting to a more descriptive first name/last name system and dispense with generic storm names altogether.

A few painful examples:

Summer Clearance (my fav!)
Eva D'Struction
Gail Force
Tara Part
Lotta Waters
Dee Ductible
June Surprise
Anita Rueff
Lawson Fownd
Rex Holmes
Blue Tarper
Augusta Wind
Misty Power
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
29. missyjj55
5:52 PM GMT on August 29, 2014

Forget the weather. Sit and write a book.


Forget the weather. Sit and write a book. The publishing arm of Amazon is called Create Space....check it out.

You are a born story teller.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
28. EdwardinAlaska
4:23 PM GMT on August 29, 2014
Speaking of "fish" storms

This is a satellite photo of one. It's called Sandy.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
27. EdwardinAlaska
3:57 PM GMT on August 29, 2014
Lunch break

I've had a couple more ideas since daybreak. Let me run them up the flag pole and see if anyone salutes:

  • This is the deadest the "tropics" have been since the internet was invented. Blog commenters and lurkers alike have literally nothing to do, other than maybe work, golf, or actually paying attention to what their spouse is saying. So, my suggestion is this: Maybe we need to spice up our relationship with the weather by giving names to virtually anything that looks like it could generate a stiff breeze or result in measurable precipitation. For example, I saw a cloud earlier today that looked almost malevolent. I named it "Danny" because I knew a guy in high school by that name and he was a budding sociopath. Try it. It's fun. it makes this "hurricane season" seem almost worth following.
  • I'm kind of surprised that we have made it this far into the 21st century without evolving beyond the point where we sort of randomly assign names to storms but give them names that are clearly gender-specific. Seriously, I read comments where people refer to storms as "he" or "she."  Haven't we progressed past that archaic gender reliance? I propose that all future storms should be given gender non-specific names. Here is a list of some possible choices:

    • Alex

    • Adrian

    • Andy

    • Ash

    • Ashley

    • Billy

    • Bobby

    • Brett

    • Casey

    • Chris

    • Claude (mostly a French speaking name)

    • Connie

    • Cory

    • Courtney

    • Dale

    • Dana

    • Danny

    • Devon

    • Drew

    • Fran (while sometimes confused, Francis is properly a male and Frances is female)

    • Franky

    • Geri/Gerry/Jerry

    • Jacky (Jacki is primarily female)

    • Jamie

    • Jan

    • Jean

    • Jesse (Jess for short)

    • Jodi

    • Jody

    • Joe (short for Josephine or Joseph)

    • Joey

    • Johnny

    • Jordan

    • Kelly

    • Kim

    • Kellen

    • Kris

    • Lee

    • Leslie

    • Lonny

    • Lou (short for: Louis or Lou Ann)

    • Lynn (Lynne female only)

    • Mandy

    • Marion

    • Mickey (alternate spelling: Micky)

    • Merle

    • Morgan

    • Morley

    • Parker

    • Pat

    • Patty

    • Randy

    • Red

    • Rene

    • Ricky

    • Riley

    • Robin

    • Ronnie (short for Veronica or Ronald)

    • Rusty

    • Ryan

    • Sal

    • Sally (when used for men: short for Salvatore)

    • Sandy

    • Sasha

    • Shane

    • Shannon

    • Shawn

    • Slim

    • Stacey

    • Sydney

    • Taylor

    • Teddy

    • Terry

    • Tip

    • Toby (Tobi is primarily female)

    • Tony/Toni

    • Tyler

    • Willy

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
26. EdwardinAlaska
9:41 AM GMT on August 29, 2014

A couple nights ago I actually posted a comment on the Masters blog, daring to risk participating amongst those who actually know about weather charts and stuff like that. I had to search a bit, but I found the comment. It's #277 in that thread.

I'll save you a trip over there. Here's what I posted:

"They should anchor a man-made island out in the middle of the Atlantic,
load it with web cams and weather equipment, and then everyone could
enjoy seeing the fish storms make "landfall." Maybe they could put some
cheaply constructed buildings - sort of like on a movie set - on the
island, so the devastation would seem more real.

There was a minor flurry of related comments after that. Apparently the mods were off-duty and I didn't get a warning for going off-topic. Then again, they've taken to posting football comments on that blog, sticking a line or two in each comment saying, "Wow, 97 L sure disappointed us, didn't it..." in order to stay on-topic.


Anyway, I had another idea this morning: I want to figure out a way to have a blog (not here) or a web site (which, I guess, is the same thing) where people post descriptions of their dreams and I interpret them for them. But it would be, ideally, a site where people pay me for my interpretation.

I'm like most people, I suppose: I really can't sit still while anyone tells me about the "weird" dream they had the night before. But I think I could tolerate it if they write about the dream, because they won't be able to see my facial expression or my body language, although I've yet to find any way to communicate my restlessness when someone starts in with one of their dream stories in a way that tells them, "Reader's Digest version, please." (I once interrupted someone to tell them I'd recently had a dream in which they were temporarily unable to speak and were forced to quickly learn sign language but they sprained one of their wrists and had the sign language equivalent of a speech impediment. They didn't take the hint. They plowed on with the account of their bizarre dream....)

So, I'll put on my to-do list finding out how to accept credit cards and then I'll look into this business of starting a web site. This could be just the big break I've of.....
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
25. EdwardinAlaska
11:04 PM GMT on August 28, 2014
Thanks for the info, barefoot and aqua. One of the beauties of this web site and the weather blogs on here is that there are folks like you who will do the heavy lifting for people like me. I love looking at satellite photos of tropical storms and hurricanes, but I don't know if it will ever matter to me whether I can watch some sort of "wave" from Africa and analyze all the things that might encourage or discourage it in terms of development into a cyclone. I guess I like the product more than the process.
Still, part of the reason I started lurking on Dr. Masters' blog is that there is a palpable sense of drama as these storms move across the Atlantic or Pacific. It really almost seems literary in terms of the buildup of anticipation, conflict, resolution, etc. A fun aspect of that blog is the range of personalities of those who post there: wish casters, doom casters, down casters, what have you.... but some of them seem almost like connoisseurs who appreciate all the little things in the process. They're the kind who can find a lot of satisfaction in seeing a "disturbance" or an "Invest" that never becomes a major cyclone because they can grasp the nuances in its life cycle.
I guess I should feel a little guilty for being nothing more than a spectator. I'm probably missing out on some cool stuff.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
24. EdwardinAlaska
11:53 AM GMT on August 28, 2014
Of Love and Clouds

Just a quick note to all Weather Lovers. If you like looking at clouds (and I really don't want to know you if you don't) then you might want to visit the web site of the Cloud Appreciation Society. One thing I truly love about Florida is the quantity and quality of the clouds here. On the east coast we often get spectacular sunrises due to the presence of cool clouds. Our sunsets are not as wonderful....too many trees in the way and no hills to stand on top of to see the horizon. If you've never seen a sunset from Key West, you've missed one of life's best free pleasures.

I'm off until later. Enjoy your day and feel free to post cloud photos if you have any (not ones you found on the internet....oh, okay, you may post those if you insist).



A while back - maybe seven years or so - I found a book at the library called The Book of Clouds, by John Day, Ph.D. It's a book you can probably read through in one sitting, although the fantastic photos of clouds might cause you to take it more slowly and savor the images. I saw that Dr. Day had a web site,, loaded with even more great photos. I e-mailed him to tell him how much I enjoyed his book and to ask his permission to use one of the photos for something. He graciously consented.

I only got to know Dr. Day briefly through an exchange of a few e-mails, but he was a person whose nature came through unmistakably in what and how he wrote. A truly wonderful man who never lost the love of something so simple as looking at clouds. And he got to do something that many of us can only envy: His career was built on doing what he truly loved.

I hadn't corresponded with Dr. Day for six months or so when one day I visited his web site to see if there were any new cloud photo galleries, only to find a notice on the home page saying he had died. According to the web site, 'He was 95 years old
and working on his latest book, "The Peterson's Field Guide to
Weather".' How great is it to live so long and to still be able to do what gives you the greatest satisfaction right up to the very end?

This may sound maudlin, but I can't even begin to guess how many times I've gone to watch the sunrise, have seen the sun illuminating the clouds, and have thought, "Dr. Day would love this one."
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
23. EdwardinAlaska
11:38 AM GMT on August 28, 2014
Length of Day

As soon as I have a bit more time I want to post something about the length of daylight at various times of the year. Here in Florida there will still be more than 10 hours of daylight at the winter solstice, which is about twice as much as I have been used to. At the equinox in September  everyone in the country will have a day of almost equal length: roughly 12 hours of daylight.
Today, with a little more than three weeks to go before the equinox, here in Florida we're losing about 1 1/2 minutes of daylight per day. In Barrow, Alaska, they are losing more than 10 minutes per day!
Bottom line is that the length of day is enormously important at high latitudes. It's not hyperbole to say that it dictates survival strategies.
More on this later, I hope. Gotta run.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
22. aquak9
12:34 AM GMT on August 28, 2014
Edward, That spin-ny thing is easy. It's what you see when you watch on go to the Noaa sats, find the floater and watch on a visible satellite loop the naked swirling low in the GOM

and barefoot is light years smarter than me-


go to NOAA sats ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Satelites- yes, we can see what they see), find the floater (that means a small single satellite camera that only looks at a certain area, named for the area they are looking at) (as in, "they finally put a floater on that soon-to-be invest in the GOM")watch on a visible satellite loop (that's like 8 or 10 still frames that run in a visual loop, so you can watch it in action)

naked swirling low
that's a swirl of clouds that has no cover, and you can actually SEE the swirl of clouds, like looking under a balerina's - oh- nevermind

GOM already covered that
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
21. Barefootontherocks
12:26 AM GMT on August 28, 2014
(Edit, paragraph removed)
Edward, That spin-ny thing is easy. It's what you see when you watch on go to the Noaa sats, find the floater and watch on a visible satellite loop the naked swirling low in the GOM. Only it's been translated into a graphic. The NHC has apparently named this low INVEST 98L. In case you don't know, MSLP means the pressure at the low center. Mean Sea Level Pressure or something close to that. Standard wind barb representation. Do you know how to read wind barbs? Acronym RMW I'd have to look up to be sure. But so can you. ;) Over the years, I've found helpful adding the word meteorology to acronym searches originating from something I don't understand at wu.
(edit, paragraph removed)
I see aqua's been here. She's light years funnier than I am.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
20. EdwardinAlaska
11:04 PM GMT on August 27, 2014
Hey, check out this verrrrrrrrry informative image I saw on another blog. First person who can figure out what the heck it is gets a "Super Lurker Star" award, which we will hand out at our annual banquet, held each year since 2014 at the "official" end of hurricane season (or whenever the Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series, whichever is later):

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
19. EdwardinAlaska
10:42 PM GMT on August 27, 2014

Quoting 16. Barefootontherocks:

Thanks for answering. You experienced Alaska for sure. My point was, I guess, wouldn't take long for a body to enter mammalian diving response in 37 degree water. I knew someone who would not fly from Nome to St. Lawrence Isle without a survival suit handy.

The company that makes survival suits will give a plaque to anyone who spends 24 hours in the water wearing one of their suits. I assume it's only for real survival situations, not for daredevils. A crew member on one boat I was on got one of those plaques after a boat he worked on went down in the Bering Sea. His description of the ordeal was kind of matter-of-fact, but that's how it is with the guys who fish out there; injuries are expected, no one bitches about how hard things are, and you know any minute something unexpected and bad can happen.

The deck boss on the first boat I was ever on was one of the survivors of the sinking of the Aleutian Enterprise. We were talking one day when the seas were exceptionally calm, the air was unusually warm, and the breeze was gentle. He said, "It happened on a day just like today." In other words: Never get complacent, never take anything for granted. There are very few deaths out there that aren't the result of human error.

I always had a survival suit stowed in my bunk, but I knew that in an abandon-ship situation there was a good chance I wouldn't be able to get to it or even find it. We were tested on getting the suit out of its bag and getting it on in less than 60 seconds. They told us: "You're doing it on dry land. Imagine you're on a boat lying on its side in 20 foot seas." Yeah, it's great to have one available, but I was grateful I never had to use one for real.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
18. EdwardinAlaska
10:20 PM GMT on August 27, 2014
I'm sensing a theme.... I imagine your favorite show used to be GOMer Pyle.....

I grew up on a farm. We fed the animals goatmeal.

Quoting 17. aquak9:

Use GOM in a sentence:
"Where's those oatmeal cookies?" "I ate'm, they're all GOM."

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
17. aquak9
9:59 PM GMT on August 27, 2014
Hi, EIA. I'm Aqua, I live in Florida. I prefer to be barefoot, and have never seen snow.

Use Doppler in a sentence:
"I make good oatmeal cookies, but they're even better if I add a DOPPLER two of vanilla."

Use GOM in a sentence:
"Where's those oatmeal cookies?" "I ate'm, they're all GOM."

Use INVEST in a sentence:
"Why are my cookies so good? I INVEST in high-quality vanilla."

ok, this is a fun blog.

go in peace, carry on ~
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
16. Barefootontherocks
4:39 PM GMT on August 27, 2014
Thanks for answering. You experienced Alaska for sure. My point was, I guess, wouldn't take long for a body to enter mammalian diving response in 37 degree water. I knew someone who would not fly from Nome to St. Lawrence Isle without a survival suit handy.

Yes, the Alaska ferry is neat.

Have a good one.

Oh. Local forecasts where I live - NWS and TV - are rarely off, especially when it counts.
Might be interesting to know if that forecaster accuracy site looks at wu's best forecast or the NWS forecasts wu has traditionally regurgitated and published on this site.

Wu used to have a forecast competition that started after Atlantic hurricane season and went on through winter. Wu meteorologist Shaun Tanner ran it. Was a lot of fun. Discontinued after 2010(I think that was when) for some reason. Doc M's blog comment section has always been a hurricane forecasting contest.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
15. EdwardinAlaska
3:48 PM GMT on August 27, 2014
How accurate are your local weather forecasts?

I was wondering in which areas of the country is the weather easiest to forecast, and in which it is most difficult. I wasn't really sure what I meant by "easiest" or "most difficult," but I suppose a measure of those might be the degree to which short-term (next day) or medium-term (5- or 10-day ) forecasts are accurate. Of course, the term "accurate" might have many interpretations.

I assumed some areas of the country are easy to forecast at certain times of the year and not at others. Some might be easy year-round. For instance, I'd bet that Palm Springs is pretty simple: hot and dry in the summer, warm and dry in the winter. I imagine Hawaii is relatively unchallenging as well.

I found a web site called ForecastAdvisor that claims to measure the accuracy of forecasts for thousands of communities across the US. It ranks all the various forecasters by location. So, for instance, in Clearwater, Florida, Weather Underground was the most accurate forecaster last month, but over the last year it was only the sixth most accurate. In Ormond Beach, where I live, WU was fourth in both the last month and last year.

In their "Accuracy Details" pages they describe what "accuracy" means on their site: "These are the one- to three-day out accuracy percentages for high temperature, low temperature, icon
forecast precipitation (both rain and snow), and text forecast precipitation (both rain and snow). Temperature accuracy
is the percentage of forecasts within three degrees. Precipitation accuracy is the percentage of correct forecasts."

It turns out that Palm Springs is indeed pretty easy to forecast, based on the accuracy ratings: Last month the top forecaster was 90% accurate.  (Compare Hyannis Port, MA, where the National Weather Service only scored 78% last month.... and WU was at 73%....).

Kind of a fun web site to visit. Maybe useful if you're planning a trip and want to know which forecaster to rely on.... or perhaps not.....

**** Slight digression: It occurs to me that it would be interesting to start a Tropical Weather Forecast Challenge where WU members who like to analyze the "disturbances" in the eastern Atlantic and predict their development/intensity/track/etc. would post their predictions on a separate page so they could be compared later. At the end of the hurricane season, the most accurate amateur would receive a prize (I would gladly provide a coffee mug as a prize....I'd even rinse it out first) and the title of Master 'Caster until the next season starts. I probably can't go on the other blog and suggest it, because I think I'm on 90% of the members' "ignore" lists.... ****

Gotta run. I'm on a lunch break. Maybe more later.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
14. EdwardinAlaska
11:55 AM GMT on August 27, 2014

Quoting 13. Barefootontherocks:

Were you wearing a survival suit in that kayak?

Curious if you ever did any commercial fishing up there. (?)

You learned a lot in a little lurking at Doc M's. I 'Djever cross "the Gulf" in a boat?
A survival suit? No.... can't imagine that. I always wore a semi-dry suit when paddling, unless I was out on one of the shallow lakes like up near Willow or out the Denali Hwy, where water temperatures aren't so life-threatening in the summer.

No commercial fishing in Alaska. For a year and a half I worked in a quasi-governmental job, assigned to fishing boats to collect data, mostly in the Bering Sea. It was the most exciting and fun job I ever had, even if the conditions were kind of tough at times. I worked on bottom trawlers, mid-water trawlers, longliners and crab boats. The Beaufort Scale doesn't really match up to conditions at sea sometimes, but I know we were out in conditions that would have been a 10 on the scale. We were out a couple times where the wind was 70-80 kts,  maybe higher, but the seas were probably less than 30 feet. Hard to tell, especially at night. You learn to trust the boat (and the skipper) when it's like that.

The only time I crossed the Gulf was on the ferry to Bellingham. Almost like a cruise ship, minus the mobs of retired people. The Alaska ferry system is one of the best deals anywhere. Roundtrip Whittier - Valdez, with car, for a little over $200. Glaciers, icebergs, whales, porpoises, mountains all thrown in for the price, and great salmon fishing in Valdez when you get there. (Just heard from a friend there yesterday. Weather in the 30's and low 40's, and they're coming up on their biggest weekend of the year. After Labor Day the commercial guys are allowed to set their nets, and the silver salmon get scooped up like crazy.)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
13. Barefootontherocks
11:04 PM GMT on August 26, 2014
Were you wearing a survival suit in that kayak?

Back in the day, you could get a close up look at Portage Glacier from the road. You know, back when the Old Seward Highway was the Seward Highway. And before there was an Anchorage Sheraton and a Minnesota Bypass. Before there was a Dimond Mall. Before Nordstrom bought out the Alaska Company... I could go on but I won't. ;)

Curious if you ever did any commercial fishing up there. (?)

You learned a lot in a little lurking at Doc M's. I remember puzzling for a while over GOM. But I figured that acronym was better than the continual references to "the Gulf" as though no other U.S. gulf exists. I'd seen another. A big one, and stormy. 'Djever cross "the Gulf" in a boat?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
12. EdwardinAlaska
10:26 PM GMT on August 26, 2014

Quoting 10. calpoppy:

Beautiful pics! I see you have your standard Alaskan footwear on, LOL! I was in Portage valley a couple of years ago, amazing place along with the kenai and Kodiak!

I will tell my son your good words about his service, he had some amazing and very scary flights in Alaska! He was on the first rescue attempt for the workers on the Shell oil rig. He is still in the C.G. so may be back up in Alaska one day.

There's simply no better boot for wet conditions than Xtra Tuffs. No commercial fisherman would think of working on deck wearing any other boot. In Southeast Alaska and all the coastal towns from Valdez to Seward you'll see more people wearing those than any other footwear during spring and summer. I finally had to buy a new pair when my boots were more than ten years old.

If you ever get back up to Alaska and have the time, go through the tunnel to Whittier and hike up over Portage Pass. Incredible views of Portage Lake, Portage Glacier, and Passage Canal. They finally hacked out a trail down to the lake from the Pass, so now you can hike down and view the glacier up close. (Watch out for bears, though.... the place is chock full of them.) Fantastic terrain up in the Pass, with lots of evidence of the days when it was covered by a glacier, including some very cool "erratics" (massive boulders left behind by retreating glaciers).

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
11. EdwardinAlaska
9:36 PM GMT on August 26, 2014
How Times Have Changed

Imagine being a hurricane forecaster back in the 1890's, when you had to do the views of the tropics by hand and somehow send them - on horseback, I suppose, or did they have trains back then? - around to warn everyone. By the time comments were posted on the blogs, the storms would probably be long gone (along with the buildings).

Look at this map of the "tropics" I found from 1889. It almost looks like the forecaster was trying to scare people by making the hurricanes look closer.

 When people say there's not much activity in the Atlantic the past few years they should really say "not much in the past century." I mean, really, you'd go through the alphabet twice if this is how it was back in the day!

img src="Tropical forecasting 1895 photo 1024px-Van_Gogh_-_Starry_Night_-_Google_Art_Project_zps557031e9.jpg">
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10. calpoppy
8:55 PM GMT on August 26, 2014
Beautiful pics! I see you have your standard Alaskan footwear on, LOL! I was in Portage valley a couple of years ago, amazing place along with the kenai and Kodiak!

I will tell my son your good words about his service, he had some amazing and very scary flights in Alaska! He was on the first rescue attempt for the workers on the Shell oil rig. He is still in the C.G. so may be back up in Alaska one day.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. EdwardinAlaska
8:21 PM GMT on August 26, 2014
More soothing pictures for those suffering from the heat

The Portage Valley is south of Anchorage, about 50 miles by road. It's one of my favorite places: in the winter it's beautiful for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing and in the summer it's fantastic for bike riding, scenery-staring, and going for a paddle.

Portage Valley ends at Portage Lake, where the National Forest Service has a visitor center. The lake is about 3 miles long by just under a mile wide. At the far end of the lake is Portage Glacier on one side and Portage Pass on the other.

Here's a photo I took in June 2013. When I got there that day, conditions were perfect for getting out on the lake.

img src=" photo PortageLakeJune2013_zps1e7d6b86.jpg

It might be hard to see in that photo, but there was still quite a bit of ice covering the far end of the lake.

I put my fish finder on my kayak and paddled down the lake. It was very early in the day and I had the entire lake to myself.

Here's a shot of  the glacier.  My fish finder showed a depth at that point of about 380 feet. Water temperature: 39 degrees. Just ahead of my kayak was the edge of the ice pack, still about a half mile from the glacier. I could go no farther that day.

img src="
 photo RelaxingonPortageLake_zpsa79a8f21.jpg">

Here's a better shot of the glacier, a bit closer to the ice pack. You can see the icebergs trapped in the pack ice. The payoff for paddling out to the glacier is when it calves. Sometimes there's a preliminary rumble, so you know it's coming. Other times, there's a sound like a massive cannon being fired. It can be startling.
img src="
 photo PortageGlacier_zps2a470f01.jpg">

That day, the glacier calved a few times as I sat enjoying the view. it was almost mesmerizing because the massive wall of ice entering the water would create a swell that generated a wave that traveled below the pack ice, lifting the ice as it went. By the time it would reach my kayak it was a fairly gentle thing. What I wasn't prepared for was the rebound of the wave off the cliffs behind me (no photo, sorry).

Portage Pass, which would be to the left in the photos, is notorious for being a wind funnel. When you're out on the lake, you have to take seriously any changes in the weather. If the clouds begin moving or a breeze picks up, if you're out on the lake you start paddling like mad to get back to the other end. There are no safe places on the lake when the winds come. And by "winds" I mean: potentially hurricane force winds.

Not kidding about that. It's routine to get winds of 40 to 50 mph on the lake. That's common. But there are times when the wind will get well over 100 mph, even when no other area in the region is getting gusts over 50 mph. If you ever go to the lodge or the visitor center at the lake, they'll tell you amazing stories about the winds. I once saw the aftermath of a wind storm down there. You know how they put down concrete slabs and bolt picnic tables to them? They found one of them about 100 yards from where it used to be. Cars parked at the lodge had their passenger windows blown out. I never heard how fast the winds were in that storm, at least not officially, but the lodge owner told me they estimated 150 mph.

The highest winds I ever experienced there were 114 mph, measured officially by the Forest Service gauge. I went down one day during the winter, hoping to either ice skate on the lake or, if the ice was covered with snow, snowshoe or ski across. Fortunately, I parked facing the wind. It was difficult to open the door of my car, but if I had parked facing downwind I have no doubt the door hinges would have been destroyed. As it was, I could barely stand up in the wind, so I decided to come back another day.

So, there you go. A nice, cool, relaxing visit to the lake. Soothes your fevered brow, I hope.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
8. EdwardinAlaska
1:27 PM GMT on August 26, 2014
The Lurking Bell Curve

I'm kind of lazy about certain things. For instance, I can't be bothered to look up the dates when "Hurricane" Arthur (seriously, they called that a hurricane!) passed by. The reason I mention Arthur is that when that storm was traveling north was when I started lurking on Jeff Masters' blog. Why, I remember some of it as if it was yesterday.....

I went down to fish at the beach at sunrise one morning. Later I called one of my fishing buddies and told him that the wind had really been cranking out of the southwest at the beach.. He said it was probably because the hurricane had passed by offshore. "Wait...what? What hurricane?" I asked him. I had no idea there had been one. No one I knew locally had even mentioned it. I guess it goes to show you how much I paid attention even to the weather as recently as whenever this Arthur thing came and went. I mean, it's summer in Florida, so you figure a high around 90 and a chance of a late afternoon thunderstorm. What's the point of checking the weather forecast?

So it started then. I found Dr. Masters' blog and saw that he was giving good summaries of developing systems in the "tropics" (still not sure what the "tropics" are.... should look it up..... probably something to do with the equator which, I seem to recall, is very near Miami or the upper Keys). I began to lurk. I mean, really, if there were things out in the Atlantic Ocean that were going to screw up the fishing, it seemed it might be good to know. (How naive I was back then, a month or so ago. It turns out that the weather - even from the "tropics" - doesn't ruin fishing. What ruins fishing is the fact that fish like to swim to various places and sometimes they don't happen to be swimming where I happen to be.)

I was kind of fascinated by that next sort-of hurricane called Bertha. When that one fizzled, I was like all those wishcasters (a term I learned on that blog! so cool to learn these weather terms!) on the blog, pulling for the next "Invest" (see? I now drop weather terms as if I've used them since boyhood) to rush across the Atlantic and maybe develop into the Next Big Thing.

Didn't happen. Some sort of misshapen group of clouds was given the name 96 L, and for a week or more many people debated its fate, predicted its path, warned of "the models" getting it all so so so wrong, warned of it taking a hard left and sneaking into the GOM (the Gulf of Mexico, for you non-hipsters)! This cloud cluster apparently met the same fate as the last two wannabe-storms: killed off by "wind shear," thwarted by a "ridge," tugged harmlessly toward Europe by, I suppose, the Great Atlantic Gyr or something of the sort.

I think I'm getting Storm Anticipation Fatigue. I'm not lurking as much as I did barely a week ago. Is this a common pattern?  Maybe it's just me.... heck, a couple weeks ago I told a friend, "I think I'm going to buy a guitar and learn how to play it." I even went on some web sites to look up guitar reviews and prices. Today is the first time in more than a week that I even thought about a guitar. I'm too fascinated lately by reading about art forgery to bother with learning to play music... my third grade teacher would tell you I have no musical aptitude, anyway, so what was I thinking?

Off to check the latest "disturbances" coming off Africa.... I hear the 10-day outlook suggests as much as a 10% chance of a new "Invest".... that's a good thing, right? Maybe, instead, I'll wait for someone to post an update on this blog... save me a trip to that other one.....
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. ycd0108
11:56 PM GMT on August 25, 2014
Good blog EdwardinAlaska:
Here's a link to a writer who did not like "Breaking Bad" c/w his reasoning: dness/
I watched the whole series, of course.
Never made it to Alaska but have had some decent fishing on the coast of central B.C.
Weather anywhere is interesting and that is very likely why I started watching these blogs some years ago. Local weather is somewhat more important to me though.
We lurkers do serve a purpose:
"Without the audience there ain't no show!"
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6. EdwardinAlaska
8:55 PM GMT on August 25, 2014

Quoting 2. calpoppy:

My son just moved from Kodiak to North Carolina (Coastie) he loved and hated Kodiak at the same time! Loved the beauty and the fishing, hated being stuck on an island :)

Since I live in a state that does not have weather anymore I can't add to much to your weather blog, LOL!
If by "Coastie" you mean he was in the Coast Guard, give him my best and thank him for his service. The Coast Guard folks are unsung heroes, and anyone who has worked on the Bering Sea or Gulf of Alaska (like me, for a while) probably knows someone who owes their life to the Coast Guard. Kodiak is a spectacular place to fly into. Lots of concentrated beauty in that environment. And, of course, a ton of great fishing.
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5. EdwardinAlaska
8:49 PM GMT on August 25, 2014

Quoting 4. Barefootontherocks:

So, EdwardinAlaska,
interesting snow story. Of course, 24" of snow is unusual for Anchorage any day of the year. Curious if you guys lived up on the Hillside or where - what part of Anchorage?

I lived in south Anchorage, but down low, not up on the Hillside.

No, Anchorage is not a very snowy place, in general, but once the snows really start in October it's usually the last time you see ice-free streets until March.
In the winter of 2011 - 2012 Anchorage received its greatest total snowfall for a winter, something like 11 feet. The odd thing was that there were no really large snowstorms that winter. It just seemed to snow a few inches every day.

That winter, other places in Alaska, particularly around Prince William Sound, got ridiculous amounts of snow. Valdez had about 30 feet for the winter. Whittier got 25 feet. In early June there was still snow on the ground in Whittier almost down to sea level. Heck, I went snowshoeing in June up at Turnagain Pass, and there was still four feet of snow in one of the valleys up there at that time.
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4. Barefootontherocks
4:07 PM GMT on August 25, 2014
So, EdwardinAlaska,
interesting snow story. Of course, 24" of snow is unusual for Anchorage any day of the year. Curious if you guys lived up on the Hillside or where - what part of Anchorage?

If you lurk wu long enough, you'll learn about weather. Dr Masters blog comments may not be the best place to do so, due to the proverbial wheat and chaff.
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3. Barefootontherocks
3:48 PM GMT on August 25, 2014
Anything you'd like to say about why Breaking Bad was the greatest series ever.

"The Leftovers"
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2. calpoppy
1:18 PM GMT on August 25, 2014
Very, very funny blog!!! I hope you continue!

You do have a bunch of nonsensical HTML stuff on your blog, maybe they are supposed to be maps??

My son just moved from Kodiak to North Carolina (Coastie) he loved and hated Kodiak at the same time! Loved the beauty and the fishing, hated being stuck on an island :)

Since I live in a state that does not have weather anymore I can't add to much to your weather blog, LOL!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. EdwardinAlaska
2:02 AM GMT on August 25, 2014
Before moving back to Florida this year, I lived for more than fifteen years in Alaska, mostly in Anchorage. Since it might be hot where you are right now, I'll tell you about some cooler weather.

Below is a satellite photo of Southcentral Alaska, where I used to live. This photo is from the day after the St. Patrick's Day snow storm of 2002. (Not sure how large this is going to show up. Sorry if it's too big....or doesn't show up at all.)

I realize that some people might say, "So.... Big deal. Alaska is cold and snowy in the winter...." Yes, but, this storm was special for a few reasons.

Spring snowstorms in Anchorage are sometimes welcome for one reason: They cover up all the rotten, dirty snow that's accumulated along the roads during the six months of winter. Everything looks clean again, at least for a day or two.

We went to the movies the evening of March 17. Snow had just started
falling, and we were kind of thrilled by how unusually large the flakes
were. By the time we got out of the movie, driving was becoming difficult. It seemed like about six inches had fallen in just a couple hours, and it was still coming down heavily. We went to sleep that night without even thinking of whether the snowfall would amount to much.

The forecast for March 17, 2002, for Anchorage and vicinity called for
flurries. I didn't know that until the next day, because back then I
only checked the weather forecast to see if there would be good
conditions for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, hiking or fishing.

When we woke up the next morning it was startling. The official tally said that we got 29 inches of snow from that storm, a record for any 24-hour period in Anchorage. Some parts of the city got more. The snow was halfway up the doors of my pickup truck, and these weren't drifts. The snow depth was uniform. There was no sign that any plows had come through our area to start clearing the roads. The city was largely paralyzed, although some major roads were being plowed by mid-day.

Several things made this storm unique. First, of course, was the sheer volume of snow that fell. Any time you break a snowfall record in Alaska it's something the locals will remember for a long time.

But, more than the amount of snow, what puzzled meteorologists was the combination of how localized the snowfall was and how they never saw it coming, right up to the moment it started. Twenty miles away only an inch or two fell. Heck, even some parts of Anchorage only got 5 to 10 inches.

A short but interesting post-mortem by the American Meteorological Society on this storm can be found here.

(I think it was in 2008 that we had another memorable forecast that missed by a mile. We had an April snow storm that had been forecast to give us 6 to 8 inches. The forecast was only off by about a foot and a half. I really believe that weather predictions for coastal Alaska are a challenge. Too many systems and topography come into play. I learned early on that the 5-day forecasts were nothing to rely on.)

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