The graphic above is based on Stacker’s article, States With the Worst Droughts, that ranks states by average percentage of land in drought from 2000 to March 2021. Listing the states in order, I grouped them in 10s with darkest Orange indicating the top ten drought states and darkest Green for the 10 wettest. (White = the middle 10)
The top state for drought is Arizona. No surprise; it’s a desert.
The state with the least drought is Ohio!
Georgia and South Carolina stand alone with a lot more drought than their neighbors. Their drought ranking is like Kansas.
Hawaii (dark orange) and Alaska (dark green) are at opposite extremes.
As climate change continues to unfold human populations will migrate from less habitable to more habitable locations. In the U.S. we can expect people to move west to northeast in the coming century — from more drought to less.
On Tuesday morning, 15 November, I found beautiful fruits on my walk in the neighborhood: Red berries on invasive burning bush (Euonymus alatus), purple berries on native American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), and dusty blue fruit on invasive English ivy (Hedera helix).
It began to snow so I hurried home and was glad I was indoors when it came down fast. It looks peaceful in slow motion at the end of this video.
The snow stuck to the grass, parked cars, and the Pitt peregrine nest …
… then melted overnight as the temperature rose and low clouds moved in.
By Friday most leaves were gone and the only green shrubs in Schenley Park were invasive plants: Bush honeysuckle in this view …
… and bamboo near the railroad tracks.
Tonight the temperature will drop to 19 degrees for a very cold start to the new week. Brrrrr!
Last weekend Chris Randall @ultrapeakschris tweeted a video of a shadowy figure walking in step with him in the fog. At first he thought it was another person. Instead it was a Brocken specter with a faint rainbow halo called a glory.
My first Brocken Spectre. Creepy to see it out the corner of my eye and think it was someone else moving pic.twitter.com/j38PhwGZqE
Wikipedia describes: A Brocken spectre is the magnified shadow of an observer cast in mid air upon any type of cloud opposite a strong light source (such as the sun). If the cloud consists of backscattered water droplets, a bright area and halo-like rainbow rings called a glory can be seen around the head or apperature silhouette. The phenomenon was named for Brocken Peak in Germany where it frequently occurs.
Sometimes the specter appears to hover in the sky like an angel as did this one with a triple glory that appeared to a mountain climbing team in Tajikistan.
Perhaps you’ve seen a Brocken specter from an airplane. I have, but I didn’t know what it was called.
And finally, you can create a Brocken specter in nighttime fog if you work at it. The caption on this photo says: “On an exceptionally foggy night, I parked my car at one end of the parking lot, facing into the lot, and covered one headlight with a floor mat. Standing before the uncovered light, I photographed the shadow that I was thus casting into the fog : a Brocken spectre.”
Who’s there in the fog? It’s you!
(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)
Far, far away at the edge of our solar system there’s a spherical cloud of icy objects with an inner cloud like a bicycle spoke reaching toward the Sun. No one’s ever seen it. It’s the home of comets.
The Oort cloud is the theoretical concept of a cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals proposed to surround the Sun at distances ranging from 2,000 to 200,000 AU (0.03 to 3.2 light-years). It is divided into two regions: a disc-shaped inner Oort cloud (or Hills cloud) and a spherical outer Oort cloud.
This week southwestern Pennsylvania witnessed many atmospheric effects from clear skies to troubled clouds, rainbows and a total lunar eclipse. Here are the stories behind six pictures.
Total lunar eclipse, 8 Nov 2022, 5:29am, photo through my birding scope. The sky was hazy and I am terrible at digi-scoping so by the time I got a decent shot of the moon it was leaving my view. But you get the idea.
Atmospheric optics around the sun, 5 Nov 2022, 9:20am, Yellow Creek State Park, PA. Ice crystals in the clouds produced two sun dogs, a 22 degree halo, and a circumzenithal arc (upside down rainbow at top). Click on the links to read about each phenomenon.
Layers of troubled clouds, 5 Nov 2022, 5:45pm: Later that same day two layers of clouds raced overhead in gusty wind. The lower layer threatened rain at the horizon while the upper layer glowed in sunlight.
Light mist over the Monongahela River at Duck Hollow, 3 Nov 2022, 10am.
Rainbow over Pittsburgh, 6 Nov 2022, 1pm: On Sunday I hiked at Hays Woods with Linda Roth (in foreground) and the 40 Acres AKA Hays Woods Enthusiasts. We got caught in a brief downpour but there was a Big Sky reward: a beautiful rainbow.
The sky glows before sunrise on a clear day, 7 Nov 2022, 6:27am.
On the 15th feathery contrails were pushed by high winds at 30,000 feet. We could not see them at dawn because of the lumpy clouds.
The next day the wind dropped, a temperature inversion set in, and rotten-egg smog gathered in the Monongahela Valley, below.
Temperature inversions are typical in October and November when warm air above traps cold air at the ground, filling the valleys with haze or fog. In Pittsburgh the pollution from US Steel Clairton Coke Works is also trapped, intensifying the rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in the Monongahela Valley.
The air smelled better October 17-20 including on this beautiful morning of October 20.
Yesterday’s pollution was pretty bad. Hoping for better air.
(*) US Steel’s Clairton Coke Works is the largest coking facility in the U.S., baking coal to make coke for steel production. Coking removes coal’s impurities by turning them into gases including stinky hydrogen sulfide (H2S). In March 2022 Allegheny County Health Department reported that “Based on all available data and resources, H2S exceedances that occurred at the Liberty site during the period of Jan. 1, 2020, through March 1, 2022, can be attributed entirely to emissions originating at US Steel’s Clairton coking facility.”
Fall colors were looking good in the City of Pittsburgh this week. A maple in Schenley Park turned shades of orange and red while the sunrise worked to match it.
This acorn in Schenley Park is a squirrel’s dream come true, the largest acorn native to North America. Bur oaks (Quercus macrocarpa also spelled burr oak) were planted in several places in the park more than 100 years ago, most notably at the main trail entrance near Bartlett Playground. This species withstands harsh conditions and is one of the most drought resistant oaks.
Goldenrods are blooming in the small meadow near Bartlett Playground.
During my walk to Schenley Plaza on 11 October I saw a peregrine fly toward Heinz Chapel’s scaffolding and disappear among the dense rods.
If he hadn’t moved I would not have found him. Ta dah! (See inside red circle.)
Amazingly he was easier to see through binoculars from Schenley Plaza tent. Too far for a photo.
Today is Thursday, Thor’s Day, or Jove’s Day. We’ll celebrate with some quick facts about Jupiter.
The Romans named the fifth day of the week dies Jovis (“Jove‘s Day”) after the planet Jupiter. In Germanic mythology, Jupiter is equated to Thor, whence the English name Thursday for the Roman dies Jovis.
Jupiter doesn’t have rings like Saturn, but it ought to. Why not?
Because it’s bigger, Jupiter ought to have larger, more spectacular rings than Saturn has. But new UC Riverside research (21 July 2022) shows Jupiter’s massive moons prevent that vision from lighting up the night sky.
Sunrise and sunset have been very colorful in Pittsburgh lately.
On 6 October the sky was clear with some thin clouds and airplane contrails. The rising sun lit the contrails a hot pink-red. Detail photo above, wide-angle below.
On 30 September the sunset was fiery.
Every day is shorter as sunrise and sunset get closer to each other. By 18 October we will have an hour less of daylight than at the Equinox.
p.s. Unfortunately the sunrise on 6 October many have been colorful because the air was so bad. Everyone in the Mon Valley could smell it. Hydrogen sulfide exceeded the 1-hour limit at the Liberty-Clairton monitor, an exceedance which “can be attributed entirely to emissions from US Steel’s Clairton coking facility.” Read more at GASP-pgh.org