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!