Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Vincent's Paddle

 Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) died at the age of only 37 years.

Thomas Jefferson took the phrase "pursuit of happiness" from John Locke (1632-1704) who was one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and was commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". Jefferson turned the phrase into his famous statement of a peoples' inalienable right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in the American Declaration of Independence. Jefferson did not provide the answer on how or where to find happiness in that pursuit of life.

I believe that Vincent had the solution. A happy life is one where you make yourself “useful” to society and your fellow man.  You can find that theme throughout his 37 years if you only look. Entitlement was not the answer and should not make you truly happy. 

The life struggles of Vincent have been well documented. A Google search of “Vincent van Gogh” yields more than 62 million hits. Some of these links will be misleading and many will just focus on the missing ear and his “insanity”.  People around the globe and especially art historians have very strong opinions concerning Vincent. My approach was to ensure that any opinions I might have, must be well-informed. With this in mind I would like to suggest two excellent resources of the many that I have consulted.

Vincent didn’t realize it at the time but those more than 900 letters that he wrote, mainly to his Brother Theo, would evolve into his life story. “Vincent By Himself” as edited by Bruce Bernard is an excellent summary of those letters. Vincent was a very empathetic, passionate and articulate man and not the frenzied, madman artist on the far edge of sanity as often portrayed. The parody of the genius artist as a starving, crazy lunatic just isn't valid. His letters proved that simple fact but they needed the help of his sister-in-law.  

Johanna Gezina van Gogh-Bonger was the Dutch editor and translator of the letters of the van Gogh brothers. She was the wife of Theo van Gogh, art dealer, and the sister-in-law of Vincent. She became the key player in the growth of Vincent's fame. Without Johanna, Vincent would have likely been unknown more like Johannes Vermeer – but that’s another story.

I also enjoyed “Van Gogh's Ear: The True Story” by Bernadette Murphy. The research that went into “The True Story” is phenomenal. Murphy reveals, for the first time, the true story of this long-misunderstood incident of Vincent’s ear. 

The truth sweeps away decades of myth and reveals the troubled but brilliant artist at his breaking point. Murphy’s detective work spanned the continents. She databased the inhabitants of Arles where Vincent created his finest work and wove their lives together and tied in where Vincent interconnected with each. Murphy uncovered previously unknown information about “Rachel” and uses it to propose a bold new hypothesis about what was occurring in Van Gogh’s heart and mind as he made a mysterious delivery to her doorstep. I will not give away the truth here. It is worth reading Bernadette Murphy's book. 

If books are not your style, then the 1956 movie “Lust for Life” is an accpetable American biographical film about the life of Vincent van Gogh. The movie was based on the 1934 novel of the same name by Irving Stone. The life of brilliant but tortured artist Vincent van Gogh was Hollywoodized. Much of the dialogue was imagined and the Vincent story was definitely fictionalized. This book and the movie is the basis of what many think they know about Vincent. The movie did not have the benefit of many of the facts later uncovered by Bernadette Murphy.

If books and movies do not connect with you, there is another option. Don McLean wrote “Vincent,” which is also known as “Starry, Starry Night,” in the fall of 1970 in his apartment full of antiques. At the time McLean was living in the Sedgwick House, a beautiful Federal style house in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The inspiration came to him one morning while he was sitting on the veranda looking at a book about Vincent Van Gogh. As he studied a print of Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night,” he realized that a song could be written about the artist through the painting. “The more I thought about it, the more interesting and challenging the idea became… I put down the book and picked up my guitar… Looking at the picture, I realized that the essence of the artist’s life is his art. And so, I let the painting write the song for me. Everyone is familiar with that painting.”

Van Gogh actually painted “Starry Night” while he was in an asylum at Saint Remy in 1889. He had to paint the scene from memory, not outdoors as he preferred. Van Gogh mentioned “Starry Night” only twice in his letters to his brother, Theo. Vincent lived well in the hospital and enjoyed more freedoms than any of the other patients. He was allowed to paint, read, and withdraw into his own room and even leave the ground if attended. Vincent certainly wasn’t crazy…

If all of these approaches fail you, then sitting quietly and looking through books of Vincent’s art like Don McLean did, is still a very good option. Travelling to the various museums to see the art in person would be the ultimate joy but far beyond the means of most. If you really do study the art, then Don Maclean’s words might ring true.

Irises (Saint Remy Van Gogh 1889)

The Starry Night (Van Gogh 1889)

“Now I think I know what you tried to say to me

How you suffered for your sanity How you tried to set them free

They would not listen they’re not listening still

Perhaps they never will.”

Vincent was in the pursuit of happiness and trying to be useful in life. I felt that Vincent had an understanding of happiness even though it largely eluded him. This is why I asked Janine to paint a Vincent Paddle. Here are the results. 

Janine selected some of my favourite Vincent quotes. Vincent preferred to be called simply by his Christian name which is how he signed his canvases. Very few people could correctly pronounce his family name anyway.

                                                         If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.
                                                                         I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.
                                      There is no blue without yellow and without orange.

Here is Janine’s story behind the Vincent Paddle. 

One wonders what art Tom and Vincent might have created if they had more time to explore their creativity.

I think this story was worth sharing... art matters...and we are all in this together. 

The story of Janine Marson and her art was featured in the March 2020 copy of Muskoa Life. You may also visit Janine's site at

Warmest regards and keep your paddle in the water (but not this one)... thank you Janine. 

Phil the Forecaster Chadwick

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Art and Science of Paddles - Tom Thomson

Painting with Janine in Huntsville 2016

In COVID spring 2020, I asked my friend and artist Janine Marson to paint a couple of paddles.  I have known and painted with Janine for many years. 

At the early age of only eight, Janine experienced a life changing encounter with iconic Group of Seven artist A.J. Casson who was painting up at Oxtongue Lake. Janine's chilhood stomping ground was the family resort "Timber Trail Inn" in Oxtongue. Tom Thomson sketched his swamp picture standing at the future site of Cabin 12. That patch of Canadian wilderness would grow into the studio masterpiece and quintessential piece of Canadiana named "Northern River". It was preordained that Janine would make art her life. Some of that life story and Janine were featured in the March 2020 copy of Muoskoa Life. You may also visit Janine's site at

Art is an individualistic and creative process. One does not describe the final product if something brilliant is the goal. Janine had free rein although I did specify that one paddle was to be a tribute to Tom Thomson and the other was intended for Vincent Van Gogh. I wanted them painted in a vertical format to match my other home-made paddles.

The results were spectacular and I think they deserve to be shared - the purpose of this entry. Here are the stories of two paddles and artists whose work I find very inspirational.

Tea Lake Dam in Algonquin Park, c. 1915

Thomas John Thomson August 5, 1877 – July 8, 1917 died at the age of only 39 years.

As an artist Tom painted seriously for just a few years. He was brilliantly talented and truly unique but his career was mysteriously ended just before his fortieth birthday. A google search of "Tom Thomson" produces 46 million hits so I will leave the details of Tom's life to the Web. 

Janine selected some of my favourite Tom Thomson quotes. Janine and I relate to these words. 

Take everything as it comes; the wave passes, deal with the next one.

I’ll stick to painting as long as I can.

Some day they will know what I mean. 

Tom Thomson Was a Weatherman Presentation
The Thomson painting selected to grace the paddle was one of Tom’s many skyscapes. Tom was a weather fan and I have done several hundred presentations presenting that case. “Sunset  came from the spring of 1915 and has an interesting story that few might know. 

Sunsets are greatly reddened due to the sun position being very low or just below the horizon. The light passing at grazing incidence upon the earth must pass through a much longer path of atmosphere than when it is overhead. Since short wavelength light is more efficiently scattered by Rayleigh scattering, most of the blues are scattered out of the beam of sunlight before it reaches our eyes. 

Aerosols and particulate matter also contribute to the scattering of blue and even longer green wavelengths out of the beam. This helps to explain the brilliant red sunsets seen when there are many airborne particles such as after volcanic eruptions. The cataclysmic 1883 eruption of Krakatoa contributed to the blood red skies of many sunset paintings in the following years. “The Scream of Nature” and a series of similar paintings collectively referred to as “The Scream” by Edvard Munch may have been influenced by the Krakatoa eruption. Of course, there are those who disagree saying that Munch was not influenced by what he had seen – in strong contrast to Tom Thomson. Alternatively, the skeptics suggest that the close proximity of both a slaughterhouse and an insane asylum to the painting location may have offered some inspiration to Munch.

West Coast Smoke June 25th, 2020

The summer of 2020 bears many similarities to the explosion of Mount Larsen. The smoke from the fires that cover much of western North America can be traced eastward across the continent. Climate change and the destruction of nature would have devasted Tom... as it does Janine and me. 

Tom's artist friends who would later form the Group of Seven, accused him of colour exaggeration. Actually Tom carefully mixed the colours that he saw. Paint on Tom...

The paddle shaft inscriptions.
Thomson - Marson Paddle Collage

Here is Janine’s story behind the Thomson paddle. 

I think this story was worth sharing... art matters...we are all in this together. 

Warmest regards and keep your paddle in the water (but not this one)
Phil the Forecaster Chadwick

PS: I will save the story of Vincent's paddle for another day. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Weather Watching Guide for Everyone…

#2057 "Deformation Cirrus" Pixels Link
Know your cloud… know your country. 

It may sound like a reality entertainment series but you too can be a “Cloud Tracker”.  This guide is intended to be a short introduction to understanding the clouds and their dynamics. The guide is designed to assist you in understanding the current weather situation. There are multiple excellent and thorough resources for the multitude of cloud types and their specific characterisitics. That information is terrific but not required for this short “Weather Watching Guide”.

The basic premise is that the cloud lines and shapes will allow the curious observer using their right hand, to determine their relative location within a mid-latitude storm and thus the weather. The Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model which was described in all of its detail in the previous 26 Blogs, describes everything you need to know. It is important to try to deduce the wind in the atmospheric frame of reference even though our observation is tied to the earth.

How high is the Cloud? The Outstretched Hand Guide. Convective cloud elements are all about the same size. They appear different just because of their height - how far away they are. If your outstretched hand can fully cover a cumulus cloud, then that cloud is certainly in the low etage and below 6500 hundred feet above the ground. If the thumb of your outstretched hand covers the convective element, then it is high enough to be altocumulus - between 6500 and 20,000 feet above the earth surface which is in the mid etage. If the tip of your outstretched pinky finger covers the convective element then you are looking at cirrocumulus in the high etage above 20,000 feet.

Clouds in the low etage interact with the earth's surface. Any cloud above that is in the free atmosphere. The winds moving and shaping clouds in the free atmosphere are the winds you will want to understand for the Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model. 

Oceanic Langmuir Streaks
Are the clouds Parallel to the Wind? Langmuir streaks of cloud can be as long as the wind. Langmuir streaks occur in a mildly unstable depth of the atmosphere bounded by a stable layer or boundary. Langmuir conducted his research for the ocean but the atmosphere is just an ocean of air with us at the bottom. The spacing between Langmuir streaks are more apt to be irregular. 

A Generalized Langmuir Streak Conceptual Model
Unstable layers of the atmosphere are those where the potential temperature of the atmosphere decreases with height. Parcels of air in an unstable atmosphere keep rising after being disturbed from their original level. Convective clouds like all types of cumulus reveal that the atmosphere is unstable. Langmuir streaks in the lower atmosphere are typically called turbulent stratocumulus cloud streets.

Turbulent Stratocumulus Streets in the Boundary Layer
The planetary boundary layer which is that layer of the atmosphere that exchanges heat, moisture and momentum with the ground is typically unstable during the day. Heating of the ground by the sun creates the instability and encourage and give rise to turbulent stratocumulus cloud streets.

Langmuir streaks in the upper atmosphere tend to be identified as jet stream cirrus and form below the stable layer at the top of the troposhere - where most of the weather we experience occurs. These high level Langmuir streaks parallel the central channels of the warm and dry conveyor belts. 

Gravity Waves Perpendicular to the Wind
Like Waves on a Lake
Are the clouds Perpendicular to the Wind? Gravity wave clouds are only as long as the width of the wind flow. Gravity waves occur within a stable layer of the atmosphere. The spacing between gravity wave bands are very regular. The wavelength or spacing between the gravity waves increase with the wind speed.

Stable layers of the atmosphere are those where the potential temperature of the atmosphere increases with height. Parcels of air are returned to their original level after being disturbed by a fluctuation in the wind or a barrier.

For example the planetary boundary layer is typically stable during the night. Cooling of the ground through the outward radiation of surface heat energy creates this nocturnal stability - cool temperatures at the surface and unchanged warmer temperatures aloft at the top of the planetary boundary layer. Gravity waves are commonly observed at the top of the planetary boundary layer after a night of cooling.

Frontal boundaries between air masses is the other location where one will typically find deviations in stability from that typically found in the atmosphere. Warm fronts direct warm air aloft which creates a stable situation. Cold fronts advance cooler air near the surface and these boundaries can be unstable.

Both Langmuir streaks and gravity waves reveal the wind within the atmospheric frame of reference which are the winds studied in the Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model. The Langmuir streaks align parallel to both the warm and dry conveyor belts. The Langmuir streaks are typically more obvious within the moisture of the warm conveyor belt. The gravity waves are everywhere perpendicular to the atmospheric frame wind. The regular waves caused by gravity in a stable layer can be most useful in finding the swirls as illustrated in #2378 "Singleton Classic Cirrus Summer Sunset".

Here is the clincher though - the Deformation Zone is your new best friend! I described how deformation zones are formed in Cloud Shapes and Lines in the AtmosphereA Closer Look at Lines in the Sky describes the deformation zone process in even more detail. 

Any sharp boundary between relatively moist and dry air must be a deformation zone. This is my favourite conceptual model as it reveals everything you could hope to discover about the atmosphere. These deformation zone lines are also very common and are a big part of the Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model. Deformation zones come in all sizes and shapes and occur throughout the depth of the atmosphere. In fact a three dimensional deformation zone skin encases the air masses and their circulations. The quasi-horizontal intersections  between layers of cloud and the three dimensional deformation zone skin only reveal the linear cross-sections. The entire three-dimensional deformation zone skin requires your imagination.

The Deformation Zone Conceptual Model
Deformation zones (the double headed green arrow) are perpendicular to the strongest winds in the atmosphere. Watch the cloud move along the sharp boundary to reveal the generally weaker swirls that comprise the deformation zone conceptual model. Using your right hand, curl your fingers in the direction of this cloud motion. Your right thumb will point in the direction of the secondary motions in the atmosphere resulting from the deformation zone process. An upward pointing thumb means that the air is rising in the cyclonic companion of the flow - you can expect more cloud and instability. A downward pointing thumb means that the air is descending in the anticyclonic companion of the flow - you can expect less cloud and more stability - and more gravity waves too. 

If one could see the dry air parcels on the opposite side of the confluent asymptote of the deformation zone, you would flip your right hand keeping your fingers pointing in the same direction - but the thumb must turn to point in the opposite direction for that paired swirl. In this way an "X" must be paired with an "N" across the confluent asymptote of the deformation zone - and vice versa too.

The Warm Conveyor Belt and Gravity Wave Orientations
An astute weather observer can now locate the portion of the Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model that is currently crossing their location. An understanding of the Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model and the mid-latitude storm will allow the weather observer to further anticipate what is likely to happen in the future. 
Every Conveyor Belt is comprised of both a 
The Companions are very different in term sof weather.

A weather forecaster is born…

Warmest regards and keep your paddle in the water,
Phil the Forecaster Chadwick

PS: I developed this material in the mid 1980's. The work took a few years - mainly done on quiet night shifts. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Weather Lessons for Everyone from the Cold Conveyor Belt Wizard

#0505 "Ominous
The meteorological journey to get to this point started nine months ago. Some of the science steps were absolutely essential to justify the observations we are about to assert. Some strides were more for background, nice to know information. But where are we after this gestation period of these meteorological concepts?

The cold conveyor belt (CCB blue arrow) holds lessons that the can teach everyone. We have already established how the cold conveyor belt can control the phase of the precipitation in some surprising ways. The cold conveyor belt can also reveal the characteristics of the entire mid-latitude storm through the Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model and the Weather Machine. Here is how that wizard works.

The premise is that a warm conveyor belt and storm is approaching your region. You are located within or under the Cold Conveyor Belt. This is what you observe:

The surface wind (the cold conveyor belt as measured in the earth frame of reference) has a westerly component. I used the large green arrow in the graphic to depict the surface wind result of the vector addition. This is the typical mid latitude storm that is moving steadily with the jet stream across the landscape. Cirrostratus arrives on the western horizon but the surface winds stay out of the southwest. The system crosses the area without hesitation. The precipitation, if there is any, comes and goes quickly. Stronger westerly winds signal the passage of the cold front and the system. The speed of the system relative to the earth (purple arrow) is faster than the atmospheric frame winds in the cold conveyor belt (blue arrow). The vector addition of these winds leaves a surface wind with a westerly component - the green arrow in the graphic.

The surface wind (the cold conveyor belt measured in the earth frame of reference) is calm. The mid latitude storm that is moving a bit slower across the landscape. Cirrostratus arrives on the western horizon and the surface winds gradually decrease in speed. The cirrus is slow to thicken up into altostratus.  The precipitation, if there is any, will arrive slower and last a bit longer. The calm winds will shift to the west with the passage of the cold front and the system. The speed of the system relative to the earth is about equal to the winds in the cold conveyor belt so that the vector addition of these purple and blue arrow winds balances out to provide the "calm before the storm".

The surface wind (the cold conveyor belt measured in the earth frame of reference) has an easterly component. The mid latitude storm is moving slowly across the landscape. Cirrostratus arrives on the western horizon and the surface winds gradually increase from the east. The cirrus is really slow to thicken up into altostratus.  The precipitation, if there is any, will arrive very slowly and last much longer. The easterly winds will shift to the west when the cold front arrives - but the storm is likely to last a while. The speed of the system relative to the earth (purple arrow) is slower than the winds in the cold conveyor belt (blue arrow) so that the vector addition of these winds generates surface winds out of the east – which are never good for man or beast.

In the previous three examples only the speed of the system was adjusted to arrive at the different evaluations of the storm. The strength of the wind in the conveyor belt system can also be adjusted. For example as the storm intensifies, the conveyor belt winds in the weather machine will also increase with speed. The effects of this can be evaluated by observing the results at the surface within the cold conveyor belt.

A fast moving system that still produces an easterly cold conveyor belt wind at the surface is a very strong storm indeed. It may cross the region quickly but the strength of the circulations will make it a force to be reckoned with. In general, the stronger the easterly surface winds in the cold conveyor belt, the more likely that the storm will last longer and probably be more intense as well.

By observing the surface wind in the cold conveyor belt portion of the storm, a keen observer can estimate how fast the system will cross their region as well as the intensity of the storm. If the observers also remember how to read the lines in the sky and have their right fingers handy, then they might also deduce which portion of the warm conveyor belt is likely to cross their position.

It took almost nine months to carefully establish the linkages between observing the surface wind to really understanding the weather. The pioneers had it figured out by observational trial and error. Their crops and lives depended on it. They recorded their findings in rhymes. Their weather poems and ditties would fill several books.

Personally, my meteorological training was much more book based. My university background was theoretical physics with an emphasis on nuclear. Back in 1976 I needed to pass a crash course in meteorology in order to stay employed with the then Atmospheric Environment Service of Canada. Fine academic textbooks on meteorology  (James R. Holton comes to mind) did not prepare me for the real world though. Happily, my plein air painting and the arrival of remote sensing did. I spent all of my career trying to really understand the weather from a more personal and natural perspective more akin to that of the pioneers.

Environment-based education is a current movement trying to reconnect students with the natural world. That is the unstated goal of my Art and Science Blog. The timing to present this material during COVID-19 was intentional. Observations of the natural world and the Cold Conveyor Belt in this example, can teach a lot. Technology and tablets may be glitzy but nature is real. Immersing yourself in the environment along with nature is where you can really begin to learn and to live. I would like to suggest some reading. The Last Child in the Woods and the Nature Principle by Richard Louv would be a good place to start.

Warmest regards and keep your paddle in the water,
Phil the Forecaster

PS: The real weather is always more complicated but these conceptual models will help you figure that out…

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Cold Conveyor Belt - The Wizard Controlling the Precipitation Type

#0418 "Sheena's Sky" Phil was about to learn
some meteorology from this one trick pony...
I am a firm believer in making mistakes. Ask anyone. I feel that you need to keep pushing the knowledge envelope to become skilled. Strive to learn. If you are not making mistakes, you are not learning. Nature is the best teacher and it is best to be always paying attention. One never knows when the next natural lesson will be presented.

Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model of a Mid-Latitude Storm
The humble Blue Arrow is the Cold Conveyor Belt but ignore
this Wizard of the Weather at your own risk.
I recall one Day Shift at the Ontario Storm Prediction Centre in the early 1990’s. The Cold Conveyor Belt taught me a lot. I made a tremendous number of mistakes – but I never made those mistakes again. A large and severe winter storm with a good feed of Gulf of Mexico moisture was developing with a huge warm conveyor belt. The equally impressive dry conveyor belt was carving a path through the dry slot in the comma cloud pattern. I was all over these dramatic patterns in the severe storm and excited to provide an accurate warning service.  I was in charge. Or was I? Then it happened.

Rain started to fall in the eastern forecast regions. This was a winter storm! No problem, we will fix the heavy snowfall warnings. The rain changed to freezing rain. Big problem! We had to really adjust the warnings. The freezing rain changed to ice pellets. What next? The ice pellets changed to heavy snow. Wonderful! We finally caught up to the weather that we were originally warning for but we had spent the morning back pedaling and confused. I learned a lot. I made even more mistakes. That day was burnt into my memory more than any of the forecast successes. The humble Cold Conveyor Belt had ruled the day and the weather. The Cold Conveyor Belt Wizard was pulling the strings behind the curtain of the three dimensional deformation zone.

Rain Sounding
The cold conveyor belt originates from low levels in the atmosphere poleward and east of the low pressure center. The cold and dry air is drawn toward the low. The operative word is actually “dry” instead of cold. In this case the temperature started above freezing but the dew-point was well below freezing.

The snow flakes were in their free-fall at 1 metre per second. Those flakes melted in the last kilometre of their descent. That explained the winter storm starting as rain.

Freezing Rain
The energy required to melt the snow flakes along with the saturation of that lowest kilometer of air created a profile with an above freezing layer of air aloft and below freezing near the ground. That explained the rain changing to super-cooled water droplets. These super-cooled water droplets freeze on contact producing a treacherous ice glaze on exposed surface - freezing rain.

Ice Pellets Type A
The continued cooling and saturation of the air mass increased the amount of cold air at the surface. The super-cooled water droplets were freezing within the deeper cold layer at the ground thus converting the freezing rain to less dangerous ice pellets.

The continued loss of energy required to melt the snow flakes and saturate the air mass in the lowest kilometre cooled the entire profile to the wet-bulb temperature and eliminated the above freezing layer aloft. The falling snow would fall that lowest kilometer and remain unchanged as large dendritic flakes. These large flakes would accumulate quickly and verify our original warning. Before that happened though the cold conveyor belt had been exceedingly dry and taught me a lot of lessons.

I quietly slid the term wet-bulb temperature in the previous paragraph. At 100% relative humidity, the wet-bulb temperature is equal to the air temperature (dry-bulb temperature). In dry air, the wet-bulb temperature is achieved by evapourating water into the air parcels and taking the latent heat required to do that evapouration from the air parcel itself. The wet-bulb temperature is a conservative property of air as it moves in the conveyor belts of a storm. The wet-bulb temperature is the lowest temperature that can be reached under current ambient conditions by the evaporation of water only.

The cold conveyor belt taught lessons about precipitation typing and the wet-bulb temperature that day. It also taught about the perils of being distracted by large and energetic patterns while neglecting the subtle features of the wizard behind the deformation zone curtain. This weather is now called a "wintry mix" by the media thus side-stepping the potential challenges and science. I feel it is best to understand and work with nature - and never leave home during a freezing rain event.

Warmest regards and keep your paddle in the water,
Phil the Forecaster Chadwick

Next is how the Cold Conveyor Belt can make you a better weather observer. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Cold Conveyor Belt - The Weather Wizard Behind the Curtain

#0828 "Standing Outside the Fire" Pixels Link

It might be surprising to claim that the last conveyor belt to study is also the most important. Why? How? The flamboyant Warm Conveyor Belt takes heat and moisture energy as it rises northward. The powerful Dry Conveyor Belt transports dry and cool air to the south as it sinks. Both of these actions help to keep the earth in an energy balance. Both are responsible for the bulk of the energy found in mid-latitude storms.The Cold Conveyor Belt is not even wound up with any of the gears in the weather machine.
The Weather Machine
 Conveyor Belts Powering the Weather Cogs
of Swirls and Vorticity Tubes

Ahhh... but the cold conveyor belt controls the location of the surface warm front, the character of the precipitation and more importantly, it is the one that can keep people in touch with the nature of the weather. This will take some explaining.

The Cold Conveyor Belt (marked CCB in the figure as the blue flow) is even a challenge to analyze and diagnose. Typically this important flow is hidden under both the rising and moist Warm Conveyor Belt and even the sinking Dry Conveyor Belt - important partners in the weather dance. The Cold Conveyor Belt can’t even be seen on my go-to water vapour imagery. In fact, my observational platform for the Cold Conveyor Belt is actually Doppler Radar.

By relying on radar the important advantage of event lead time is largely lost. The severe weather forecaster becomes more of a severe weather observer when precipitation is required to witness the occurrence of an event. The patterns revealed on Doppler require precipitation to reveal the conveyor belts. Those Doppler radar patterns in the Cold Conveyor Belt can also be really complex. New Dual Pole Radar is extremely beneficial as well but again the events must already be happening to be revealed by the hydrometers being blown around with the winds.

The Satellite Palette which was largely published through COMET was based on my belief that satellite imagery was very much more than a cloud-no cloud observational tool. The cloud shapes and their characteristics reveal the weather story if one only understands the vocabulary. In addition I was convinced that radar was a lot more than just a rain-no rain observation. Together the patterns revealed in the satellite and radar imagery describe space, time and trends and could reveal what the real atmosphere was really up to.

The radar patterns were potentially more complex and full of artificial artifacts so I started with the satellite. But I believed that the same principles that I had applied to the satellite data could also be applied to the radar patterns. The Radar Palette was born. I thought that the interpretation of patterns was as much an art as a science so it was a logical sequence of study for me. This effort did not get published. I guess we just ran out of time. Meteorologists really liked the Radar Palette over in NOMEK and Scandinavia though.

PowerPoint Splash Landing Page for the Radar Palette
The Radar Palette was based on the Conveyor Belt Conceptual Model. Classic examples of conventional and Doppler radar images were archived from every part of the mid-latitude storm. I used PowerPoint to link the main Entry-Splash Page to these examples. Each link included a description of the classic signatures, how to analyze and diagnose them  and most importantly, what they meant for the weather machine. The PowerPoint approach was clunky but it worked well enough as a prototype waiting for the expertise of COMET to make the material come alive. I just wanted to demonstrate the potential of the Radar Palette. In the Entry-Splash Page the “C” stands for conventional radar, the “D” stands for Doppler while the “DP” was for Dual Pole which was coming on-line in 2007. Here are just a few samples of some of the concepts and radar patterns. I have not thought of this effort in over a decade so revisiting this brought back a lot of memories.

Here is the reference sheet for the Cold Conveyor Belt and its relation to the Warm Conveyor Belt. The cold air always leads in any weather dance. The light-headed warm air will ride over the dense cold air with a typical slope of a rise of 1 kilometre for every 200 kilometres of distance perpendicular to the surface front. Remember that every front is just the surface reflection of the three dimensional deformation zone skin which encapsulates the air mass. If the cold air is doing the soft shoe shuffle northward then the warm air at the surface must advance. If the cold air is doing the stroll parallel to the deformation zone then the front will be quasistationary.

It would take several books to thoroughly explain all of this effort but may I touch on a few things just to give you the idea of why remote sensing is so vital. I will focus on Doppler as conventional radar has been around since World War II and Dual Pole radars are still likely being deployed. The Doppler isodop is very important. The veering or backing of the isodop and the area enclosed can be related to the relative magnitudes of the warm and cold advections in the lower atmosphere.

I have presented “Basic Operational Doppler Applications” just a few times starting around 2007. The analysis and diagnosis of the Cold Conveyor Belt are vital to getting the precipitation forecast right. Important meteorology like warm and cold advection could be observed using Doppler. Differential thermal advections in the vertical could also reveal changes in stability. I named these characteristic patterns with catchy names in the hope that they might stick. I was especially proud of the “Screaming Eagle” pattern. I am still hoping that this material will gain an audience as optimism and persistence can be a good things.
The Warm Screaming Eagle Pattern
If I may, I will reproduce a very few of these patterns and my Doppler applications here. It is not rocket science but it is close. I used these techniques to better understand the hidden Cold Conveyor Belt. The effort was worth it though in light of the fact that the Cold Conveyor Belt helps to controls the phase of the precipitation as well as the longevity of rare but vitally important events like freezing rain. The CCB is the Weather Wizard like the Professor of Oz who hid behind the curtain pulling the strings. 
The Headless Eagle Pattern
The Headless Gull Pattern

The Cold Conveyor Belt is best investigated by simple observations that anyone can do. That is the subject for next Tuesday Science. It encourages us all to get out into nature to appreciate the beauty and science of the natural world. That is where we learn best...

Warmest regards and keep your paddle in the water,
Phil the Forecaster Chadwick

PS: There will be NO exam on this material...