It’s cold.

It’s -13 outside.  I was trying to make snow;  I poured boiling water in a mister and was spraying it around outside.  I think the droplets were too small;  what came out looked like white steam and rose quickly out of sight.  Bigger droplets were definitely frozen.. Anyway it was inconclusive.  morning_moon_DSCN1165I checked the WoodMaster, which needs a lot of attention when it’s this cold, and the controls were dark!  After checking switches & breakers, sure enough the power was out.

I can heat with wood or propane, but without power, I have no blowers or pumps, so we’re really screwed with a major outage.  There was no weather happening, other than unusual (um, record breaking) cold, so I didn’t think it would be long before the heat came back on.  It was about an hour, and the house only lost a degree or two.  I had laid out the Mr Buddy heater and the Coleman lantern, figured I’d wait till 50 degrees in the house before lighting a match.

In the plan is a standby generator.

GOES 13 looks at Hurricane Sandy

After being down for maintenance since Sept 17,  GOES 13 is back in service.  Which is good because my AppleScript more or less broke while it was down.  “The trouble stemmed from a motor vibration, which caused a lubricant buildup that obstructed the spinning motion of the filter wheel in the sounder. A team of engineers from NOAA, Boeing and ITT suppressed the vibration, the filter wheel restarted and is running smoothly, with improved performance. ” (

Here’s today’s view of Hurricane Sandy, which is just now clobbering the East coast. It’s from the Visualization Lab, and has a floating URL that will be something else tomorrow.

Here’s the output of the AppleScript:

GOES 13 on standby, GOES 14 activated

I use an AppleScript to scrape files from the GOES archives at The collected files are then processed a bit in Photoshop, named with sequence numbers and fed to QuickTime Player 7 as an image sequence to make a QuickTime movie.  Today, the script broke, and upon investigation, I found that the GOES 13 satellite is unavailable and that 14 had been activated for US East coast coverage.  That will create a hop in the movie. Here’s the difference in coverage:

Consecutive images (with about a 21 hr gap) from 13 on the left and 14 on the right showing difference in coverage.


Here’s the YouTube movie, glunks and all:

GOES ECIR Satellite of Hurricane Isaac Development

Using an AppleScript, the individual images were collected from NOAA’s archive site, and made into a movie with QuickTime Player 7.  The coverage is from 8/05/2012 to 09/05/2012, showing the development of Hurricane Isaac.  The images are from the IR (infra-red) band of the GOES, which permits 24 hour coverage.

Weather radar suspense theater


Hope the we get the red stuff.

A light rain is falling, hopefully ahead of the much-needed downpour they’re getting to the west.  All Summer I’ve been eyeballing the radar and hoping the storm trajectory intersects our farm.  We’ll see a nice red blob pass just to the south, they get an inch, we get nothing

Aerial haze in New Mexico

The normally great skies at Rancho Hidalgo were somewhat marred by aerial haze from fires burning in Arizona.

Here’s a picture from the El Paso- Phoenix plane showing the source of some of the aerial haze.   We’re at about 36,000 feet.

aerial of arizona wildfire

I showed this to Dan Klinglesmith, who is studying astronomical seeing at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory at New Mexico Tech:  “That is a great picture in one sense!  The attached plots show the levels of small particles in the air at my home in Socorro from May 26th till this morning.  My particle counter measured the number of particles in 8 different channels.  The line (black)  marked >0.3 microns counts all of the particles bigger than 0.3 microns. the line (red) marked >0.5 microns counts all of the particles bigger than 0.5 microns and so on.  The difference between the >0.3 and >0.5 microns would tell you the number of particles between 0.3 and 0.5 microns.

The linear plot lets you easily see the time when we had smoke and haze in Socorro.  The log plot shows 6 decades of counts and you can see that the number of large particles is quite small.  And it looks like the small particles are going up this morning.  The levels all depend on which way the wind is blowing. On the afternoon of  29 when the count were almost 1,000,000 in 2 minutes we could not see M mountain from town.  Then later that night when the counts went about a million there had been a major fire on the plaza and we were seeing the effect of the smoke from that fire.”