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.