Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Report From The Sebring Storm Team

Being British, I'm naturally obsessed with the weather. We gets lots of weather in Britain but despite it being in our genes (and jeans), we'd rather not have most of it. Especially the rain.

Great for ducks, frogs, wetsuit and umbrella sellers but not for the rest of us.

Here in normally sunny Florida, it's coming into the rainy season by which I mean we get regular afternoon t-storms which pass over in an hour or so and then things return to normal. This is obviously nature's way of watering lawns, filling up lakes and rivers, washing the dust off vehicles and, this being Florida, sweeping unwanted old people off into ditches as part of the overall circle of life. It's not a big inconvenience really (the oldies in the ditch might disagree I guess) and part of this is down to the awesome weather radar systems we have here.

The local tv companies love to try and outdo the competition by beefing up the names of these systems and the presenters who bring them to us.

For example, Ch13 has their Skytower Omni Radar and Ch8 has their Storm Team with their VIPIR Interactive Radar. So coooool.

All these radar systems can be accessed online and for a state that usually has sunshine 16/7 and darkness 8/7, you'd think such advanced weather technology would be a bit over the top and unnecessary.

Not a bit of it. I love it. I could watch the colourful HD radar images all day. Yes I'm that sad.

Today has been a perfect day for radar watching. A big t-storm was passing across the state from NW to SE and thanks to these radar systems, I could almost pin point to the minute when the first raindrops would be arriving.

This is a still image of what I mean. Clearly a band of light rain (dark green on the radar but not to be confused with the light green of the land !) followed by heavier rain (yellow on the radar) with a dash of very heavy rain (red on the radar) was about to hit us in south Sebring but with such advance knowledge, we were prepared.

The radar is animated and so we can see the storm line moving down the state towards us which makes for really exciting online viewing.

Belt up, yes it does !

Sand bags by the doors, tinned food stockpiled on the kitchen floor....we were ready.

Ok maybe not. But it was useful to know exactly when the t-storm was coming and sure enough it came, dumped a ton of rain and passed over. The sun hasn't quite returned but it won't be long now.

Back in Britain where we get more rain than most, such radar systems would be well used if not actually overworked. It's not that long ago that our tv forecasters slapped big magnetic sun and cloud discs onto the relevant areas of a map of the country as if we didn't know what either looked like in real life.

"I can't see Ballymoney as there is a huge dark cloud on top of Norn Iron" I used to say in my yute, indicating that scale hadn't been taken into account when these discs were created. It might've been quite sunny in parts of Norn Iron but the disc sizes didn't allow for such hair splitting information so, sorry, but according to ITV, ALL of Norn Iron will be cloudy today as it's too small an area for more than one disc. Suck it up.

I know various technological updates have taken place since then but although we now get sweeping computerised forecast views taking us around the whole of the UK, we've still not quite got it right yet. These graphics are worthy of the boffins at Industrial Light & Magic but I'd still prefer our own simple version of the Skytower Omni radar with detailed info presented by, say, the BBC Storm Team in dayglo jackets with their names on the back.

21st century, people.

Gotta go, there is a storm front heading for Boise, Idaho and someone needs to be keeping an eye on the radar images. It's a job for (drum roll).....the Sebring Storm Team.

That'll be me......untrained, unpaid, unheralded and unsure why I do it !

It's in the genes.


rhymeswithplague said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhymeswithplague said...

Oops, that deleted comment was mine.

I don't know which is worse, experiencing a violent storm unexpectedly OR knowing that one is coming, worrying as you watch it approach, and wondering (a) whether you will be in its path and (b) just how bad the damage will be.

Daphne said...

I've never seen the abbreviation t-storm in my life before. So I had to google it to check what it meant. And now I've found out that EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD knows that abbreviation, except me. Sighhh. I like storms, in general, unless I'm out in a field standing under a tree.

Milo said...

I remember the hurricane of 1987. I was at (boarding) school on a hill in Kent and we got the full force of it. A night I will never forget.

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