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!