Monday, August 16, 2010

Friday...SJSU here we come!

To make up for the clear skies (no weather), we focused on hydro on this last part of the trip. Namely, discussing the streamflow off the eastern Sierra, Lake Tahoe's drainage, Mono Lake, snowpack etc. We also discussed potential impacts on the region from climate change.

To set the mood, we did a short detour to see Mono Lake, remembering that many of the students haven't visited the eastern Sierra. And then up and over Tioga Pass {though Yosemite}. Along the way, we stopped to look at the sharp terrain, and talk about the Washoe Zephyr wind of the eastern slope. Lunch in Tuolomne Meadows, and a mandatory walk down to the river to take our shoes off and wade in. Masses of lupines in blossom! We also stopped to see some mountaineering fools climbing up some rocks, and also for a fast peek at Half Dome. After which, full speed ahead for home!

Got back to SJSU at 6:30 pm - not bad at all!

Come back later to see photos!

Thursday: looong drive

Thursday = splitsville. Sad to leave, but also all looking forward to being home.

We needed to turn in the helium tanks, which delayed blast off 'till 8:45, but that's not bad!!! Last year, the Flagstaff-Bishop drive seemed to take forever, so this year we pushed. Which included no stops at funky middle-of-the-desert restaurants! Skies were 100% clear, so there was no real weather to distract us, but we did need to stop in Needles again to see how hot it was and gas up. The gal at the gas station claimed it was 130 a couple weeks ago. As if.

In the spirit of not stopping long for lunch, we decided a fast trip to the golden arches in Bartow was in order. Well - who knew Barstow is on the main Vegas-LA route? If only I'd looked at the map closer. Anyway, turns out the McD's there is pretty cavernous - perfect for the multiple long lines inside: so much for a fast lunch stop. But we ate fast and pushed on.

The Barstow-Lone Pine segment wasn't as grueling as I recall from last year, and this year, we found it necessary to actually stop along the way at the "best jerky in town" hole in the wall (last year we flashed by). Which is how I got to taste jerky for the first time in my life! See - I had always thought of jerky as chunks and strips of some meat left out in the sun to dry, i.e., weird and nasty. Turns out - I was right!!!! Vile and disgusting. So - that's crossed off my bucket list!

With a weird taste in my mouth, we found ourselves now in that truly awesomely beautiful country that is the northern half of the Owens Valley, and in the van I was in, we had a great guide in Craig Clements who has hiked and fished this area extensively. Finally rolled into Bishop around had the drive at 9+ hours non-stop, and we did it in that time with stops :-)

After dinner, and failed efforts to connect to the hotel wireless {probably one of those hotels where you get free wifi provided you are near the office!} BTW, this town is such a fishing magnet that the hotel offered: (a) a freezer in which to store your catch; and (b) a location at which to clean your fish! The freezer was fairly ancient looking, and I half expected to find body parts in there just like in the movies. And as for the fish was right next to the pool, which...

11 pm found most of us on a dirt track off the road west out of town going up to the mountains. Reason? Annual Perseids meteor shower! We had a fabulous view with zero clouds and zero moon, and saw some pretty decent shooting stars. None really amazing, but I'm glad we looked! We barely made it 'till 12, given the long day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Random bits and pieces (will be updated as stuff happens)

Here are some things noted along the way that didn't make it into the blogs.

(1) Arizona TV blanketed with political attack ads. I, for one, will not miss them. I have seen too much of:
(i) John McCain's attack ads on J.D. Hayworth
(ii) J.D. Hayworth's attack ads on McCain
(iii) Ben Quayle's attack ads on President Obama (Ben = son of Dan Quayle)
(iv) "Vote for me" ads by Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County in southern AZ. Thing is, the vote is in 2012!!!

(2) Tourism update: lots of french language heard at GCNP. At the route 66 cafe (see earlier blog), we encountered a group of bikers from Germany. We were amused to watch them knocking back beers, and then climbing into rain suits before heading out in heavy rain. Also met some people from Santander in northern Spain.

(3) Flagstaff. A bit Santa Cruz-ish. A bit Boulder-ish. Both of which are good, but there's also a lot of strange folk wandering around! Including those people who like to walk across a crosswalk in the middle of traffic. Is it OK to hit them in that case?

Wednesday: balloon-a-thon!

Various plans were floated for today - our last day in-country. We settled on this: one group of volunteers (really!!!) left at zero-dark-thirty (4:30 am), went out to the RAWS-1 site, did a sunrise balloon-radiosonde release, and more soundings every hour thereafter. Purpose? Study the evolution of the lower atmosphere as the sun comes up and begins the daily heating cycle. Astonishingly, all four soundings worked!!! The rest slept in (me included).

And then at 3:45 pm, the rest of the team went back out there to do basically the same BUT in order to study the evening decay of the heated boundary layer (and bring RAWS-1 home). As I write this, they are still out there...stay tuned!

Myself, I have been catching up on emails and lecture note prep for school, as well as gassing up the van etc. All in preparation for departure tomorrow. Also, a number of us were spotted at/in/around the pool, studying clouds (hee!)

Tuesday: Instruments and the Grand Canyon!

What a day! We set off at 9:30 and headed NW for the ski area in order to recover RAWS-2 and its data. This allowed the rest of the gang to admire our handiwork, i.e., the placement of the instrument suite in the middle of ski slope away from etc. PLUS the fact that it worked (i.e., the students wired it up correctly). PLUS we got some good data! Serious thoughts of coming back here next year...

Here is RAWS-2.

Then we headed further NW to examine RAWS-1. This too looked good. The students huddled, and decided they wanted more data (nice!), so we decided to leave it there (see Wednesday's post to explain its recapture).

Here is RAWS-1.

And then we continued heading NW towards the Grand Canyon (GCNP). Given that most of the students had not seen it, it would have been pretty crummy not to have gone. Turns out - we hit weather! A bit of a surprise since all/almost all of the monsoonal moisture has moved east.

We split into two groups: the hikers, and the shoppers. I was the shopping leader, meaning that our group wanted time to look at the gift shop(s). One the way into the park, we ate lunch in a cafe sporting this sign (gulp!)

Having gotten into the park (which took about 20 minutes in a long line), a gasp from the students when they caught their first sight of the Grand Canyon - nice! We all got our tee-shirts, and are happier for it! We then drove along the south rim, stopping at every possible turnout and taking pictures (some are posted in one of the photo blogs). At one point, we found ourselves under a decent rain shower (from which we soon heard thunder). Heavy rain! Fat rain drops on the window! There were actually several cells forming over the area north of I-40 and west of US-180, precisely where we were! All us wanna-be Ansel Adams types pulled over a mile further east to photograph the cell over the canyon (see photo posts).

And then we pushed east to meet up with the hiker group, who reported that they had hiked down at Grandview about 1000' (i.e., about 1/5 the way down, as the crow flies). Still awaiting pictures to prove it. We left the park, drove east on US-64 and south on US-89. Along the way we had magnificent views of the desert (zero trees to obstruct views). We also ran through some pretty good cells with heavy rains. And a rainbow!

And finally in the evening, another student-led weather discussion and forecast. Here we are getting ready (the hotel usually sets us up with tables and chairs, but not tonight).

Photo Gallery 4: Clouds!

Pileus (above the developing Cu) ->

Cb ->

Fair weather Cu ->

Rainbow over the desert ->

Photo Gallery 3: Shower over the Grand Canyon


And a bit later...

and note that you can see the (muddy) river!

Photo Gallery 2: Scenes

Barbed wire.

Wildflowers up on the mountain!

And the view from up on the mountain!

As if I really need to tell you!

And more...

Photo Gallery 1: People

All of us (except Mike Voss) out NW of FLG setting up RAWS-1.
{L to R: Alison, Tegan, Roger, Chris, Joanne, Nina, Angela, Colin (in back), Pat, Kevin, Henry, Allison; Craig in front}

Tegan considers sucking up some helium!

Preparing to launch radiosonde.


Roger & Henry let one rip!


Setting up a RAWS.

Almost done.

Are they playing basketball?

Me and my shadow.

Rain menacing our students!

Evening weather discussion @ hotel.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday - takin' it easy

Ha ha = see previous post! We had an "enforced" down day!

Luckily, we did not expect much convection today. Also, we needed time to debug one of our radiosonde systems. And finally, Craig felt that we needed more data. So, we decided to split into two tems: "P" and "Q". Mike Voss did the labeling - ask him! Team "P" was dispatched northward to set up RAWS-1 at the site NW of FLG where we did our sunrise campaign last year. Happy days.

Team "Q", with yours truly at the wheel, was directed to deposit RAWS-2 at the site of their choosing. We started out heading NW along 180 (as did team "P"), but we took a sharp right when we got to the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort turnoff! Wonderful steep winding drive uphill led us to the ski resort parking area. At one end, we found access to the Hart Prarie trail - steady slope, cleared of all trees etc., nice and wide - perfect spot for a RAWS to gather some wind data. Hopefully slope flows. Also, tons of wildflowers!

Problem: NFS land. Hmmm. So we went to the gift shop where they sold lift tickets (lift operating in summer!), and asked if it would be OK to set up the weather station. The guy I asked (person "A") decided to ask person "B" who was standing 2 feet away (me: repeat story, which is that we are students from SJSU and we need to set up a weather station and nobody will get hurt etc.). Person "B" decided that we should ask person "C", who was in the restaurant looking bored (me: repeat story). Person "C" said (without ever smiling) it sound fine BUT we really should talk to person "D" at - wait for it - Human Resources. Really??? HR??? Not trying to get hired, people - just set up a weather station! Person "D" works down the hill, so I mention that there are these devices called telephones. On the phone now with person "D" (me: repeat story). Person "D" says the REAL person to talk to is the CEO (or something like that), and he's in San Diego, but - and here, person "D" shouts across the room to person "E". Person "E" turns out to be Dan (I think), in charge of facilities.

Within minutes, Dan has driven up the road, and is A-OK with the idea, and let's all walk out there together to see the site. Five minutes later, the deal is sealed, me and Dan are shaking hands, and the students are assembling the RAWS.

Here they are pre- and post-assembly.

AND - my new BFF Dan offers us FREE rides up the chair lift! So, soon as we had the RAWS set up, 4 of the 5 students with me were heading up from 9,500' to over 11,000' on the chair lift. It was one of those non-gondola open things, which terrify me, so I stayed at the bottom, ate lunch and sat in the sun! Here are parts of team Q!

AND - they had cool lightning tee shirts in the gift shoppe AND there was a sale on! Hence, team "Q" is now sporting cool matching tee shirts. And team "P" can suck it!

When we got back, I was amused to discover that the team "P" students were all asleep, having deployed their RAWS. A result, I fancy, of last night's hoe-down (see Sunday's post). Nasty shock for the poor babies...midterm is tomorrow from 8-9 am! Yikes.

On the good news front, Craig worked on the radiosonde, and has pronounced it fixed. Problem was radio-related. So tomorrow and Wednesday we will be doing many, many launches. Also tomorrow we will need to drive back northwest to grab the RAWS. Directionally, this gives us a perfect excuse to visit a certain large gash in the earth!

Sunday: More chasing! Your author getting real tired of I-40 (photos added)

Sunday's highlights: slightly later departure from FLG + chasing/driving all day + more junk food = recipe for a late night!

Saturday featured monsoonal moisture covering the entire state. All that was needed was a mechanism - either "dynamics" or surface heating - to force lifting (and both factored in).

Sunday, the moisture was clearing out from west to east as the trough edged in. Thus, it looked as if the best chances for Tstorms would be east of FLG. Hence we were again driving eastbound on I-40 (after we had a long southbound detour due to a decision to close the connector ramp for roadwork on a Sunday). With our now-practiced "one eye on the road, one on the cell phone radar app, and the third eye on the Threatnet weather display", we chose to focus on a nice cell building due south of Holbrook. Today's lunch - McDonalds. No fancy route 66 cafe food for us. The cell we watched cycled though these stages: building, then decaying but with a new cell developing to the S-SE of the old cell.

We stopped near the southern entrance to the Petrified Forest NM (PFNM) to take photos and set up a RAWS. FABULOUS VIEWS!!! Reason? No pesky trees or buildings or mountains to obscure view. Also, we saw a pronghorn antelope, which was cool. Immediately to our south (20 miles maybe?) was our storm. Nice rain shaft, sound of thunder (but didn't see lightning). See pics of thunderstorm, and thunderstorm menacing students!

With a view to seeing the southern (developing) side of the storm, we headed E-SE via a gift shoppe at the PFNM. Two things: (a) this place gets the "grossest toilets" award so far for the trip. To speed things up, I went in the men's loo, and oh-my-god...I feel sorry for you guys; and (b) they had some large chunks of petrified wood outside with prices like $18K!!!

Onward ho. Trying to get closer to the storm, we took off down a dirt road (which did have a name). To our surprise, here out in the middle of nowhere, we met traffic, mailboxes at random locations, and houses with barking dogs. Boy - people really living off the grid!!! We stopped by one herd of barking dogs to watch the storm (slightly fearful that the dogs' owner might appear with a gun). Some of the students were more interested in some centipedes they found, but I'd be the last to suggest a change of major!

The storm really never quite built into the biggie we had hoped for. Problem was - that dryer air moving in from the west. At this point, it was either: drive east and chase other cells (all of which were moving away from us), or head back west, which is what we chose to do. As we stopped to get the RAWS, we decided to do a balloon launch, and again - the system failed us. We're still not sure what the problem is: software? conflicts on the PC? crappy hardware? interference? So many possibilities, but we haven't given up yet!

Heading back west, I think the strain of being jammed in the van endlessly driving for many days in a row was catching up to us! At one point, we were watching clouds near FLG, and shouting out things like "It looks like an alligator", "No, a frog", "No, a boy on a surfboard", all of which produced lots of laughter! No idea what was going on in the other van!

For dinner, a case was made to support the local economy, as opposed to eating at a chain, so we found ourselves at the Beaver St. Brewery. They were seated us in the pool room, which accounts for the pool playing photos (upper=me; lower=students).

The food and beer were deemed delicious! Spontaneously, the faculty decided that - after six days of non-stop classes, driving, talking weather etc. - a few "off" hours were in order. Which accounts for why students trickled back to the hotel - and submitted their forecasts - between 1 and 4 am. Of course, there might be consequences (in tomorrow's post).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday night - still damp!

Long day. Currently 10:19 pm, and students are still forecasting.

OK...we left at around 10:30, although it took a while to actually hit I-40 (which is about 10 feet away from the hotel) since students agitated for a run to Starbucks. Per previous post, it was raining all morning, and so we left in steady rain (not like any Flagstaff trip I've done in the past!) Heading east, we ran into some heavier cells, the kind where you can barely see beyond the hood of the van. Our initial target was Holbrook, a 90 mins drive east of FLG, and well on the way to the NM border.

Once at Holbrook, we headed south and found a good spot to set up and leave a RAWS running for the day. For the students, this was their first "assemble a RAWS" session, and they did very well. All the time we were eyeing the skies and our cell phones, watching for cells to develop to our south. The hope was that a cell would pop up over the rim and head right over us.

Having set up the RAWS AND done a SUCCESSFUL radiosonde launch - which we tracked to 299 mb - we headed back into town for lunch. The main west-east street (Hopi) turns out to be Route 66, so of course we ate at a Route 66 cafe named Joe and Aggies's Cafe, a tradition since 1943. Left with full tummies and souvenirs, including free stuff they gave us as we left!

More staring at the sky, and our cell apps, and the Baron Threatnet displays. All of which generated the idea to keep heading east. There is a chance we might have bombed straight into Gallup, NM, since lots of big cells were firing in western NM. However, as got closer, they were dying. The same was true of a cell that crossed I-40 east of Holbrook. We had fun watching the radar and seeing the storm split! To its north was a pair of cells which had probably been through the same history about an hour ago. But again, we got there just a little too late, and instead kept driving east to Hwy 191 south. After a few miles, we crested a rise which gave us great 360o views, including a great view of the next incoming cell. After a few minutes of ooh-ing and ahh-ing, somebody decided to launch a balloon. And pretty much as soon as the inflation began, really heavy rain hit! Downpour! Plus nearby lightning and thunder. Since the inflation was underway, it wasn't possible to abandon ship, so those students on that task were fast getting soaked to the skin. I whipped out a stylish plastic poncho, but my shorts, shoes, and sleeves got soaked. Somebody produced a tarp to cover the students, as a result of which I have great video of a tarp, pouring rain, and laughter from under the tarp!

Such a lot of fun! Probably not if you're from somewhere rainy, but for CA kids... So that pretty much fried us for the day (by now it was after 5). Long slog home via Holbrook to take down the RAWS. Rolled back into town at 8:20, with no dinner and no forecasting done. The truly dedicated would have eaten a stale pack of cheese and crackers (or Craig's "power bar and Amp" solution), but there was a critical mass of Red Lobster fans!! Say no more!

And thus again, here we are at 10:40 pm on a Saturday night on the field trip, NOT relaxing in front of the TV, NOT out clubbing, NOT asleep, but rather - forecasting and discussing things like GFS versus NAM etc.

Drying out tomorrow, but there should be enough left over for some Tstorms. We're pretty much out of helium 'till Monday, so tomorrow is RAWS day!

Again...I WILL post pictures! When I get a moment to breathe!

Saturday morning sit rep

Wow! Between midnight and 9 am, I have already experienced several of my favorite activities, including: being awoken by thunder right overhead and walls rattling in the middle of the night; breakfast; and a swim in the rain!

Apparently, the thunderstorm hit between 12 and 1 am. It never occurred to me to get up, get dressed, and go outside to look, but apparently there was an SJSU presence outside :-)

Got a wake-up text at 6:30 am from Mike. Basically: "Cells are moving in - let's go!". Part of the group dashed off at 7:15 to experience the heavy cells moving in, with cores just west of us. I chose to walk across the street to Coco's for breakfast, and walk back in the heavy rain. Does that make me a slacker? (Warning: saying yes could reduce your grade!)

We had moderate-heavy rain for quite a spell this morning (in addition to overnight rain), so I persuaded the hotel staff to open the pool early. Which is how I came to be jumping in and bobbing around in rain at 8:45 am. Pool-hot tub-poll-hot tub - you get the picture.

All in all, it's been a very active morning, and it's only 9:30! We are now meeting to decide the plan for either the whole day, or the first half. Right now, radar is showing rain across much of western AZ west of I-17 (which runs from FLG down to Phoenix). Hence, we don't expect much heating there yet. A bit less activity to the east, so we're hoping the clouds will clear to allow heating to fire off storms later. The northeastern quadrant is looking promising. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday - Day 1 (photo added)

The word of the day is: "almost". We almost did this, we almost saw that, we were almost rained on etc.

To begin, we were wheels rolling at 8:55 am, which was not bad. Stopped in Needles to see how hot it was and raid the Food Mart @ Chevron! It was 106oF and only 7% RH - yikes! Despite the heat, the students managed to throw a football around. The football will no doubt come back into the story this week.

Sharp downhill run to the Colorado river, followed by a climb back up onto the plateau. One nice thing (there are many more!) about the drive from Needles to Kingman to Flagstaff is to watch the vegetation change as we drive east and climb to over 5000'. Kingman looks dry as a bone, with scrub vegetation and the odd cactus (which look to have a lot of new growth this year due to the rainy winter - El Nino?) And let's not forget that Kingman is one of those places that attracts "survivalists", if you know what I mean! As you head east, pine trees begin to appear, and the land looks greener, no doubt due in part to the heavy monsoonal rains over the last 2-3 weeks. And by Flagstaff, lots of pine trees. Forests even! Also, you get winded more rapidly as you dash to the gas station restroom, for dash you must in order to beat the crowd and not have to wait in the line!

Anyway, as we bombed eastward - AZ freeway speed limit is 75, which we stuck to, as we have no papers - the skies to our east looked more and more "stormy", and we were all furiously updating laptop and cell phone radar displays. Problem was...the good, big stuff had fired up earlier, and while we were an hour west of FLG, the good stuff was an hour east on I-40. As Mike said: "We should have left Barstow at 8" (which got earlier each time he said it). Turns out there were roadworks at FLG, and we lost any slim chance of a late chase due to being motionless. Can't chase when there are stationary semis ahead, behind, and beside you :-(

So by now we were on plan C, I think, which was to head to the hotel, check in, and use the wireless to check developments. This led to plan D, which was to head back WEST to try to chase a small cell moving NNE. We almost got under it, which would have been fun. But due to roads, and the cell's decision to decay, we didn't quite make it. Again from Mike...well, you can fill in here!

We DID release balloons, however. Again the almost word crops up. The 1st balloon almost worked, which means we let go, but then had zero communication with the receiver, and thus - no data. In Craig's words (roughly): "Stupid German radiosonde system". Which is why we launched the 2nd balloon with a second radiosonde system. At least we got a temp sounding to 375 mb from that one!!! However, the RH came in at 99% for the entire ascent, and even I know that's fishy!!! Let's hope tomorrow brings better luck on the radiosonde systems. Here are the students getting ready to release the balloon.

Plan E...head back to hotel, eat dinner, start forecasting for tomorrow. Craig (in jest, he now claims) suggested power bars and Amps for dinner, and blast on somewhere to watch lightning and/or chase. Right after that, we all saw lightning from a storm east of FLG, so of course this led to plan F = eat at McDonalds (or somewhere else fast), and bomb east to watch lightning. But once the fries and burgers hit our systems, and we saw (again) that the cells were dying (again), and that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time (again), we decided to bag it in favor of the hotel.

Which explains why yours truly is now in the hotel lobby, blogging here fingers to the bone, while the students polish off their forecasts. As I end this, it's 9:57 pm and most are still here, even tho' the pool closes in 10 minutes!

We are pretty confident that tomorrow is the best-looking day of the trip for widespread convection, some of which may generate problems. So the broad idea (plan A for tomorrow!) is to hope for clear skies early, strong heating of favored locations, and updrafts tapping into the incoming moisture surge. And then - color us in the middle of it all!

Lots of driving today. Author too pooped to upload photos - hopefully I can slot them in later!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blast off!!!

If it's Thursday, it's blast off! As you might guess there was the usual running around, but nothing (really) bad happened and we left earlier than planned!

First, thanks to Josh Diamond (pre-trip SJSU major) for bringing in coffee and donuts! Homer Simpson would love to meet you Josh! Second, thanks also to Josh for calling Steve Paulson at channel 2 (KTVU) and giving them a heads-up about the trip. Thanks in turn to Steve Paulson for mentioning us and the trip on-air! I'll see if I can post a link.

Craig had already organized all the met instrument gear, so it didn't take long to haul it and all our luggage downstairs. At first, almost everything was carefully packed into the trailer we had planned to take. And then on a whim (luckily while I was upstairs), it was decided to deep-six the trailer. Hence, unload everything and stuff it in the vans.

The only thing left, of course, was to re-attached the bone I found last year on the trip to the front of "chase 1" - the van on the right below. Up close, the bone looks bigger (probably from a cow).

And thus it was that at about 10:45 we left! Craig got, maybe, a mile from campus before he had to come back for more spare parts. Thanks to Enterprise Rent-a-car for giving us a van with the AC power outlets disabled (deliberately). Which limits the instrumentation we can run to - none. So we are now playing "hunt the fuse" to see if we can get the power back on.

The drive southbound on I-5 and eastbound across north Bakersfield on 58 was grim, as usual, but at least it was cooler than it could have been (only 90's). We rolled into Barstow at 6 pm (lunch stop and 4pm cold drink stop, if you're wondering why it took so long).

As I write this, the students are quietly looking at zillions of weather products on the class web site, and working on their forecasts for the Flagstaff (FLG) region for tomorrow. Assuming there is some storm activity when we roll into FLG tomorrow, we may well just keep going and chase it down!

Fingers crossed!

T-1 and counting!

"How do instruments work?" "What can go wrong with instruments?" How do we analyze the data?"

These were all questions posed by Dr. Clements in his all-morning lecture on meteorological instrumentation. At least presumably...I had to skip the class to take care of all the mickey mouse last-minute chair stuff.

BUT...I caught up with the class after lunch on the roof of our building (Duncan Hall) where they were doing their first radiosonde release.

Here we all are on the roof on a lovely day, with temperatures in the mid 70's, clear blue skies, and fabulous views of the southern end of the Santa Clara valley.

As is ALWAYS the case with instruments (in my limited experience!), something went wrong. In this case, the balloon sailed off, but the software package didn't receive anything (reminds me of last year!!!) We think the balloon was under-inflated and rose too slowly (and thus fooled the software). But the students all got the gist, which was the main idea!

Once that was done, really the only thing left was packing! The forecast is looking good for Saturday - fingers crossed!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

T-2 days and counting!

Woo hoo! Here we go again! Our second annual field trip to study the Southwest Monsoon...destination Flagstaff, AZ.

Everything last year went fine - except for the stupid monsoon itself. The 2009 monsoon was a very sporadic, and virtually non-existent when we were there. So the only thing we are hoping for is - monsoonal activity, as in thunderstorms! And remember - we chose this time (first two weeks of August) because statistically it's the most reliable time for experiencing the monsoon. Hmmm. The monsoon has been roaring for the last two weeks, so naturally it is now dying down - just as we are getting ready to depart. Dying down - but not dying!

Today was the first day of class, and we welcomed ten students in for day one - an all-day forecasting refresher and get-to-know-you session. Laptops handed out, sparkling new 4 Gb thumb drives ready for oodles of data. We have four current SJSU students, four new/incoming grad students, and two "guests", one from SFSU and one from U Illinois. We are very excited to welcome such a diversity of students on the trip! I am hoping they all join in the blog so that you can meet them. The class website is here if you want to follow along meteorologically.

Tomorrow will be an all-day instruments refresher. Maybe we can squeeze in a "learn matlab in 30 minutes" session after lunch :-)

And then on Thursday, after we toss all the instruments and luggage in the vans and/or trailer, it's blast off. San Jose-Barstow on day 1; Barstow-Flagstaff on day 2.

I'll post photos tomorrow!