Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Monday: 27 September 2010

Good News, Less Good News  -  @ 10:16:23
The good news:

Our extended heat wave may have broken yesterday, at least for now. I think we can thank the remnants of Hurricane Karl for that - though it came nowhere near us, it did stir things up as it moved northward way to our west and into Minnesota and Wisconsin. It seems to have broken up the high pressure dome that for several weeks has been isolating us from the cool rainy paradise that successfully arrived yesterday and will continue today.

We got just under two inches of rain at 7am this morning, and I thought - coup! But no, our guy in Lexington 10 miles away got 6.38", and others in Oglethorpe County got more than us too, although Al seems to have netted the state high precipitation trophy at the moment.

Look at all those high blue dots in September, up between 90 and 100 degrees. More than in August, good grief. But look again at the numerous low ones between 50 and 60 degress. One of the largest ranges of daily temperatures I've seen in quite awhile for such an extended period of time. The average (the blue line) still shows that we had an extended heat wave for the last couple of weeks way above normal, and continuing our hot weather of the last 5-6 months.

The less good news (although I think there's improvement):

On Thursday I noticed a mild itching on the underside of my left forearm. I couldn't see anything and more or less forgot about it until Friday afternoon when I noticed there was a little pustule like I get from a fire ant sting. I played with it as everyone does (come on, admit it), and then washed it and put some peroxide and a bandaid on it. That I would have done such a thing suggests that I knew it was something a little different - normally I just let these things go.

On Saturday I changed the bandaid and started getting a little concerned. It was quite a bit larger and distinctly harder underneath, with a zone of inflammation around it.

Now, before I go any farther, let me say that I'm not prone to worrying about such issues - in fact to the extent that I'm more prone to ignoring them. In fact, to the extent that I don't have a "sickness" folder at startlogic for this image - I had to put it in under "entertainment".

Last night, Sunday, I pulled off the bandaid again and it had continued to develop. And so I decided to take some photos. I'll make it a thumbnail that you can click on if you want to - not everyone wants to see a closeup of someone else's ulceration.

I did take some measurements - the central area is about 0.4 cm across and the outer blistering is about 1.1 cm across. There is a surrounding area of mild inflammation somewhat more than an inch across, as of this Monday morning.

However, it does look quite a lot better this morning than it did last night. There's been little itching and no pain at all at any time, nor has there been any weeping or oozing - it's completely dry. Just some blistering around the edges. I'll certainly keep an eye on it, but now's the time to speculate. What could it be?

To start with, I'm not particularly sensitive to any arthropod bites or stings, and I've gotten pretty much the full range of local possibilities, except black widows and brown recluses. My reaction to hymenopteran stings is normal - initial pain, then itching and a little swelling and that's about it. I get mosquito bites all the time, and yes, ticks too. I've encountered most the very few species of caterpillars that sting. Similarly my reaction to poison ivy is typical - I am immune to it (in the sense that I'm sensitive) but not abnormally so.

Obviously my first thought was that this was a brown recluse spider bite, and here's where I can pass on some interesting impressions from less hysterical sources.

First thing - don't go looking at brown recluse spider bite photos unless you *really* want to get grossed out. Second, those represent the fairly small percentage of bites that really go crazy. Whether it's that some folks are particularly sensitive or that some spider populations have particularly virulent venom I don't know but it seems that many or even most bites don't result in problems of that sort at all. None of this is to say that you should ignore a potential brown recluse bite, in case that's not clear - it's certain that they can be very serious.

It also appears that here in northeast Georgia we're on the very outside range of the species, which centers in the midwest, and apparently doesn't like the south at all (none in Florida, for instance ?!?). Only two confirmed cases that I've been able to find in Athens, and those in the 1980s. Now that's not to say it couldn't be a brown recluse bite, but taken with the lack of other more systemic symptoms after four days it would be odd.

It's possible that it's a poison ivy inoculation, but it would have to have been an extremely local one, with a fairly high dose of it at the center of the ulcer. This also seems unlikely but the blistering outside the central area does resemble it somewhat (though without weeping).

So we'll wait and see. I'm guessing the affected area will be smaller by tomorrow or Wednesday, given the lack of discomfort and supporation. But now I have the documentary photo and measurements to fall back on!

Friday: 24 September 2010

Another New Plant, and the September Weather  -  @ 06:33:10
Among the Polygonum sagittatum of a few days ago was a population of little plants that looked a little like spiderwort, Tradescantia.

Glenn confirmed that I was at least in the right family - it's Commelinaceae, alright. But it's Murdannia keisak, wartremoving herb, aka marsh or asian or swamp dayflower.

Nice chalky-blue anthers!

Unfortunately, it's a native of eastern Asia, that makes its living as a weed in rice paddies. It probably came here via rice introduction, perhaps in the Carolinas in the late 1920s or mid 1930s, according to this abbreviated JSTOR article.

The USDA Plants distribution map shows the curious range - the southeast of course, but also oddly Oregon and Washington.

Sources variously describe this as a perennial (USDA Plants) or an annual (the aforementioned 1990 JSTOR piece). This short article from the Virginia Dept of Conservation and Recreation notes the folly of mechanical removal, as fragments will root, which might inform the confusion. Scott Hagood, from the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension, gives a nice herbarium description, and underscores that the plant roots at the nodes, which certainly look capable of it.

It doesn't seem to be a terrible problem here on Goulding Creek - I've certainly never noticed it before - but then maybe it's just getting started. It strikes me that it may be one of those aquatic plants that beaver may consume.

And now a word about the weather. It's been dry and hot. It's been dry and hot much of the summer, and I noted earlier that the record breaking means were more from the very warm nights than from any extremely hot days (although we had those too). The very warm nights were due to unusually high humidity beginning early in the summer.

The horrible hot moisture laden air, which through most of the summer selfishly retained its water rather than raining it out, came to an end toward the end of August, and humidity has been low since then. But the daytime highs have continued to average 8 degrees above normal during September, so far. They've been 10-15 degrees higher than normal for the last week, reaching 97 degF on two days.

The nights, though, quickly cool down to just very slightly below normal. A couple of nights were 10 and 13 degrees below normal - we came very close to breaking a record there. I'd attribute this to the dryness and transparency of the atmosphere for the last few weeks. Still, the mean temperatures have averaged 4 degrees above normal.

It looks like this is about to come to an end. The remnants of Hurricane Karl, though nowhere near us, may be helping to disperse the high pressure dome that has controlled our weather, and on Sunday the humidity will rise and the atmosphere will become much more turbulent. We actually may have periods of rain and thunderstorms, and much cooler temperatures throughout the rest of the week.

Anything to end the mind-numbing dullness of our endless hot summer!

Saturday: 18 September 2010

Tearthumb  -  @ 10:36:23

A visit to Goulding Creek this week would show it sadly depleted in flowing water. I'm able to walk right down the middle of it in most places. Once again we have a long term high pressure system over us, keeping temperatures in the 90s. This time, though, there's a lot less moisture in the air so it's actually quite comfortable, with relative humidity going down below 40% most of the hot afternoons.

Here's a native plant I haven't seen before on Goulding Creek - it's arrowleaf tearthumb, Polygonum sagittatum, and the "sagittatum" part does refer to the nice arrow-shaped leaves clasping the petioles.

The plants I found were fairly short, less than a foot tall. Glenn, who identified it for me, said that his student field trips to Olympia Drive in Athens have encountered this plant standing four or five feet tall, and in masses around moist areas. In past years it's been rather short, like my find, but this year grew enormously. Though its growth habit is referred to as a vine, Glenn says that it stands quite well on its own.

You can see the problem with giant tearthumbs if you look here at the stems, which are jagged. And then you'll understand the the "tear" in tearthumb does not refer to tears as a result of weeping (thought maybe it does!), but rather the short sound "tear," as in what it's going to do to your legs and arms as you push through it. Apparently it was the source of misery on the last field trip.

The flowers are pretty obscure - a tiny cluster of white florets. The plant itself is an annual.

As you can see from the USDA Plants distribution, it's found just about everywhere east of the rockies, and from south to north as far as you can go. And Oregon!

There are a lot of Polygonum species - 33 are listed at the USDA Plants profile page. They're found everywhere, and almost certainly you've seen them even if you didn't know what they are. The family name, knotweed, refers to the swollen nodes on the stems, which is easy to catch. Individual species have common names such as knotweed, bindweed, smartweed, ladysthumb, *tearthumb* (lots of thumb names), and ruptureweed - don't want to go there.

More than half of these are nonnative, and a lot of them are noxious or invasive. There is the curious case of ladysthumb, Polygonum persicaria, which I find growing along the creeks and has a distribution throughout North America. It too is nonnative, but oddly at USDA Plants is referred to as threatened/endangered. Something must be wrong with the software!

Monday: 13 September 2010

Easy Come, Easy Go  -  @ 06:19:51
On Saturday night we had our first rain since August 29, about half an inch. Although we've certainly gone longer without rain, and under hotter conditions, it was a nice relief.

A couple months ago, I pointed to our Arizona Cypress that we'd planted about fifteen years ago and remarked to Glenn that it looked like it was finally about to croak. It was still green but had a lot of brown branches intermingling. I took this a few days ago - it's now completely dead.

To its left is a smaller companion planted perhaps eight years ago. To the right is an eastern redcedar (it's actually a juniper - did you know that?). We didn't have to plant that one - they're everywhere.

We were very fond of the blue-green foliage of the Arizona cypress. Every year it made tons of cones, but they must have been sterile - we never found any young plants.

As you can see, the tree grew pretty fast. It's about thirty feet tall now. It showed no signs of disease, and it wasn't struck by lightning that I can tell, although that's often the reason behind a quick browning death of our tall loblolly pines.

It wasn't the heat of this summer, nor the modest drought - this tree has been through much worse. My guess is that it was a combination of that fast growth along with the nature of our thick clay soil that eventually did it in. Arizona cypress has a normal range restricted to the southwest, where soils tend to the more porous, and rainfall is considerably less. I'd guess that the roots couldn't keep up with the growth, or that the rapid growth resulted in a weak aboveground structure, or both. If so, then that will be the eventually fate of its younger companion to the left.

One of the more popular trees to be planted here, usually as a privacy screen since they grow tall and fast and lush, is Leyland Cypress. It's a sterile hybrid between one of three cypresses (one of which is Arizona cypress) and a distant relative, Alaska cedar, which is in a different genus, Chamaecyparis nootkatensis, syn Cupressus nootkatensis. Its range is along the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska.

I don't know if the popular hybrid has this problem - we've never planted one - but they certainly do grow fast, though without much character. Certainly I've seen several road screens of Leyland cypress planted many years ago that are continuing to do well. Perhaps characteristics from the Alaska cypress complement or modify the inappropriate growth response or root tolerance of the much more attractive Arizona cypress.

Sunday: 12 September 2010

Night Flower  -  @ 06:59:35

Glenn and I describe ourselves as botanists, loosely, because the story is a little more complicated than that. Mostly people will remark to the effect that we must have a house filled with "flowers," but nothing could be further from the truth. They're almost always a little aghast at what we see as a "yard" with what we see as quite a diversity of interesting plants, but that they see as filled with weeds. "Why don't you get rid of all the weeds, why don't you mow it and make a beautiful lawn?" As stereotyped botanists, we are failures ; - )  .

I do have two potted plants that have somehow, despite all negligence, survived. One is a jade plant and the other is a "night-blooming cereus". The latter was given to me by my Aunt Nita many many years ago, and it flowered for the first time on the night of September 7.

That's actually a pretty big flower, about 8 inches across, with a couple dozen upper tepals, or petals, and about half that many lower ones. It has a *lot* of stamens, which is typical of the Cactaceae, and an elongated, shocking pink style.

It is a cactus, one of those subfamilies that tends toward the epiphytic, growing in the air, on other plants. As close as I can figure, it's Epiphyllum strictum, which goes by a number of common names, and is from southern Mexico and Central America. The "night-blooming cereus" name actually covers quite a few species, some distantly related, and many only vaguely resembling this one.

For some reason, I find the stigma amusing, with the lanceolate linear theme of the petals repeated in the stigma lobes. And what's with that lobe coming out of the center?

It only lasted one night, and as the next day progressed, wound itself up in a tube, and remains so to this day.

Thursday: 9 September 2010

WFD History  -  @ 09:53:16
On Monday night, after I finished up with my last appointment on campus, I found that Glenn had left me three messages. There was a structure fire call a little southeast of Winterville that had been paged out an hour earlier, and was apparently quite large. I drove to the station to see what had developed - Glenn was there holding things down. There were eight departments involved, and five of us had gone much earlier with the tanker. They'd just cancelled additional water requests, and in a situation like that it's better for one driver to be available for the other fire truck in case there's an unexpected call for another fire. So I didn't make that one.

Not to fear - at 7am on Tuesday morning there was a page for several departments, including ours, to return to a flare up at the previous night's fire. This had been expected, and we were mainly there with water in case it was needed.

We got back around 9am, and put everything away and went home. No sooner had we pulled in the driveway than there was a *third* call, this time for a structure fire on US 78. It wasn't too serious - a large truck had lost a hot brake drum and it had ignited some vegetation next to a small structure. We got back to the station and put everything away, talked about making WFD history on three fire calls in less than 24 hours, joked about getting a fourth call, and went home.

Sure enough, at 2pm we got a FOURTH call to yet another structure fire, off a little dirt road in the north part of the district. This one turned out to be a kitchen fire which had already been put out. We got back around 3pm, put things away, and did not joke about a fifth call.

So that was Tuesday - four fire calls in less than 24 hours. It was doubly historic, since it's the first time our incident numbers will record the same date varying only in the last digit indicating each of the three events.

The previous morning, after several hours of pulling Microstegium, I was headed down the front path and disturbed this little scene. I just happened to have my camera and got off one shot as the snake, disturbed, disgorged the very large frog at lower right and headed off into the bushes.

The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, SREL, has a good profile on the likely identity, a black rat snake. Nothing surprising here - it's the larger snake I'll most commonly see. I had only a second to get the photo, so it's not very good, and though you can't make out the white flecking between the scales, you can tell it has the appropriate white chin.

It was a relatively small snake, probably 3 feet long, and it was a little odd that it was eating a frog. You usually think of rat snakes as going after warm-blooded mammals and birds, but SREL tells us that juveniles add amphibians to their diets. Two odd things - the frog was dead, which surprised me. And the tableau was located fairly far from one of the ponds, where on this hot dry day I wouldn't have expected to find a frog. So did the snake kill the frog first, and how? Did it move the frog, presumably caught much closer to the pond, some distance before settling down to eat it? These are small mysteries.

Monday: 6 September 2010

Hover Fly  -  @ 06:35:30
Well, the temperature on Sunday morning was officially one degree above the record low of 52 degF, so we didn't match or break that record.

Here's a Yellowjacket Hover Fly for you, Milesia virginiensis. It's been several years since we've had a lot of these, and I saw quite a number of them yesterday in the dry heat of the day, down in the woods. I've also enjoyed the occasional company of one or two on the front porch as it investigates whatever is there that might interest it.

The challenge in photography, which I did not succeed in this time around, is to catch one in mid air. That's not that hard, as they will hover for lengthy periods of time, so long as they're not disturbed too much. This one was not into hovering, though.

They're the sort of flying insects that will get most people into a panic, for they are nosy and aggressive, they do resemble hornets or giant yellowjackets, and they're *big*. This one was the typical inch or more long. Of course, since they're syrphid flies, they don't sting or bite at all. They like flower nectar, and they're looking for a likely aphid work camp so they can lay their eggs nearby.

So that's where you can shine, as you casually let one investigate you from a very short distance, which they will do at the drop of a hat, presumably investigating you for an infestation of aphids. Their mimicry is given away by their size, and also by the hum of their wings, which along with their flying and hovering behavior nothing like a hornet of yellowjacket.

Sunday: 5 September 2010

Wonderful  -  @ 09:48:32
I know, it's been heavy in terms of weather here lately. I expect we'll hear less of that, but just to beg an indulgence: 52 degF this morning here at Wolfskin, which will match the record low of 1997, if it is rendered official by tomorrow. It's why this topic has been so ongoing here - the chaotic changes that occur at this time of year. And too, it's why it attracts my attention, because without air conditioning, foolish though that choice may seem, I do it so you don't have to.

Of course, you must listen to me talk about it. It's not all about me, of course - I've been keeping up with one of my fellow firefighters who has been doing construction all summer. *He's* the one who has been doing heavy physical labor. I haven't yet had the opportunity to connect about the last week, but my guess is that the dry atmosphere has him a lot happier.

So, to speak to the subject of this post, this last few days has felt wonderful. Dry, hot yes, but dry, and then transparent nighttime skies that for the first time have me turning the ceiling fans off, pulling the covers up, and Gene considering the possibility of getting under the covers, rather than as far away from me as he can and still be on the bed.

Saturday: 4 September 2010

Fire Weather Forever  -  @ 11:50:37

Seems like this should be a public service announcement, since this is going to be the way of things for the next ten days, and given La Niña weather, really for the next three months, potentially. Probably warmer and drier, maybe much drier, than usual, barring the unpredictable remnants of a tropical storm.

From the Georgia Forestry Commission fire weather map page, this is the most timely early morning map you can get for intimations of flammability. It's the relative humidty for today. The fire danger map comes later in the afternoon, so late (2:30pm) as to be relatively useless. There are number pages that are updated much earlier, and the Point Forecast, which I've set for my coordinates. It gives hourly predictions for the next three days, by way of numbers.

But visuals are so much better, and the sprackled brick red is a good choice.

So for the first time since April, I think, we're now in fire weather. Humidity for most of Georgia will drop below 25% today, and so we're conflicted between the pleasure of a warm dry day and the knowledge that it might portend brush fires. I have my wildland gear in the passenger seat of the car, ready to go.

Friday: 3 September 2010

Ramble  -  @ 10:52:29
For most of the summer, until the last few days, I really thought there was something wrong with me, sweating copiously after only the tiniest of physical effort (like getting out of the shower). Was it a change in metabolism? Was it a hint of something else? It's been wearing - never can I recall such a summer. I really haven't wanted to do anything, and that's unusual. It was only when I discovered how relentlessly humid this particular summer has been, with extremely high dew points very close to daily temperatures that I realized what was going on. Dog days started last April, instead of August as is proper and expected, and then never let up.

So it must be the fine dry weather of the last few days, unlike anything in the last five months, that has me ebullient. It hasn't been all that much cooler - daytime highs still reaching the low to mid 90s, but the dew point temperatures are now 20-30 degrees lower and the humidity has been in the 30% range during the hottest part of the day.

It feels wonderful - no sweating! Or actually there is sweating but it is properly gone through evaporation rather than accumulating in rivulets and then cascades because it can't evaporate.

I even looked up dew point, and was amused to discover in the table there that a dew point of 65 degF, which we are experiencing now in these fine dry days, are actually uncomfortable to a great many people more used to a continental climate. Truly the South is a hellhole, for all sorts of reasons, but this summer it's been more so.

So that's just an introduction, in the spirit of trying to figure things out, that leads to the real target of this post, and there's the Ramble.

For the last year or so since I discovered it, I've enjoyed Gerry Wykes' blog Naturespeak, from the Lake Erie area. I enjoy it especially for the tidbits that are things I didn't know about things I thought I knew - Gerry digs up some pretty interesting stuff about whatever topic has caught his fancy.

Even though it turned out not to be cuckoo bees, his discovery last week of a nesting of emerging bright green halictids, sweat bees, produced a fine photo of the nest and its occupants. I like halictids as much as I like cuckoos, so there.

Yesterday's post, Crater Makers, on antlions is a good example of the tidbit phenomenon that I find so appealing. You'll immediately recognize the sandpits of the antlion larvae, although you may not have known, as I did not, that the larvae do not poop until they become the flying adult. You couldn't go on that way for three years, and neither could I.

But there was another passage he wrote, right at the end, that I also liked about this post - something that might go unnoticed, in reference to antlion larvae (my emphasis):

The name “antlion” is definitely all about the larva. It is the vicious larva that was depicted on ancient Mimbres Indian pottery and this is the beast that captures our current imagination.

Imagine that. Ancient pottery, the modern pop art of the time I guess you could say, depicted nature - in this case antlions - as if they were, and they were, a sufficiently well known thing that would be appealing to the majority.

Now fast forward to the present day.

Do you think that antlions, or anything else that has to do with nature, really appeals in this sort of way to any of the vast majority immersed in today's modern pop culture? Pop culture that has to do with humanocentric entertainment in music and video; pop culture that has to do with fashion; pop culture that has to do with navel gazing literature, bless its elitist heart for I love it too, but modern literature that is almost exclusively centered around humans and their precious problems?

Here's another observation, in keeping with Gerry's science fiction theme in the antlion post, for I am a fair connoisseur of science fiction. It's almost an iconic image, presented by innumerable science fiction writers over the decades: you have this everyman hero, who looks up at the stars, and gasps (instantly) - "we can't be on earth, the constellations are different!!!"

No way, I say, not then and certainly not now. I'm maybe one out of a thousand, just a guess, who actually does look at the stars, and has made a considerable habit of it. I know how long it takes to orient myself to recognizing the constellations if a few weeks has passed, or if I'm looking at the sky in the early morning or after sunset. Those other 999 everymen have most likely never seen more than a few stars at all, assuming they've looked up into the sky at all, for they live in a light polluted environment that blots out all but the dozen or so brightest stars. My guess, based on the weary encounters with students ignorant from everything from stars to living things to carbon dioxide is that the majority of those 999 have only the vaguest idea at all of what a constellation is, much less being able to recognize one. The idea that one random everyman mysteriously transported off the earth by an otherwise fine science fiction writer could look up in the sky and gasp and say "we can't be on earth, the constellations are different!!!" is, well actually, it's embarrassing.

Consider our ancestors. Granted, they had fewer modern pop culture distractions, but on the other hand they actually had day to day distractions that were life threatening at the most fundamental level. And yet they still managed to notice when a "new star" appeared in the sky, that a great eye test is to be able to distinguish the Mizar double, or to put antlion larvae on their pottery. They weren't stupid people, they certainly observed more of nature than most of us today do, and they saw these things as important enough to incorporate into their popular art.

And so that's why I like a blog like Gerry's. Great photos, as with so many nature blogs that I also enjoy, but also that little extra that makes you think.

Thursday: 2 September 2010

The Month of August  -  @ 07:26:46
It's The Month of August, Number 55 in a series. The word here, for August, was hot, as it was in April, May, June and July. Moreover, our 3-month summer lows broke the 90-year record for abnormally high nighttime temperatures, and this placed us at #3 for record high mean summer temperatures since 1920. This has already been discussed and I won't elaborate on it here.

This time, they're hiding the usual temperature anomalies product here, at the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. These are the *mean* temperature anomalies for August.

As in April, May, June, and July, the eastern half of the US experienced hotter than usual temperatures in August, while parts of the west had cooler than normal high temperatures. A look at the monthly means over the last few months shows the western US beginning to become a little less extreme in its cooler than usual mean temperatures.

We find the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center's precipitation plots here these days.

The eastern US alternated between normal and above normal from Florida northward, but a swath of below normal rainfall stretched diagonally from Texas northeastward into Pennsylvania and Michigan. Westward to the Rockies was normal to above normal precipitation. Dry conditions continued for the Pacific states, but what's up with that bright green patch in northeast California?

For Athens:

For Athens, we continued for the fifth month in a row a warmer than usual trend. Our high temperatures averaged 3.7 degF higher than normal; our lows 4.0 degF higher.

Here is my plot of high temperatures for the month of August in Athens. As usual, the black dots are for the 19 years 1990-2008 (black dots), 2010 (green line), and 2009 (red line).

We broke no high temperature records in August.

More importantly though, and this probably extends throughout the southeast and beyond are the low daily temperatures. This year's green line shows the low temperatures way above most of the data over the last 20 years, and that has persisted since June.

We only had 6 days in August that were more than one standard deviation above the mean high (5.0 days is normal). But only the last two nights in August were more than 1 SD below the mean low (4.3 nights normal). And there were 18 nights in August that were more than 1 SD *above* the mean low.

The figure below shows the Athens rainfall data which are official for our area. As usual the green line shows our actual rainfall, the red shows the average accumulation expected. The black dots are rainfall over the last 20 years, the vast river of peach shows the standard deviation.

In August, rainfall was very heterogeneous. The blue below, for Athens, shows a large surplus of rain netting 7.62" for Athens (3.78" is normal). Just 12 miles east here in Wolfskin though, we got 3.88", only slightly exceeding normal. The figure below looks very different for us in Wolfskin. No blue there!

Here is this neat prognosticator in which you can get variously timed precipitation and temperature outlooks:

For us, the long term (three months) continues to suggest warmer than usual temperatures, and average to below average rainfall. Factoring in La Niña, it could now be much drier than normal for the next three months. In some ways that will be a relief, but in others it means fire weather.


NOAA's weekly ENSO update tells us that we're now experiencing La Niña conditions, and we're expected to continue these into 2011. From the ENSO link above, here is the typical weather pattern for a La Niña winter. Might not get any snow this year : - (  :

I'm anxiously awaiting the writeup for August, and for the summer, at NOAA's Monthly State of the Climate product. There are many interesting weather- and climate-related items to be found here.

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