Posts tagged weather
Clockwise from top left:
1) Last Sunday I decided to try out some of those nail stickers that have become popular. I’d bought them at HEB several weeks ago out of curiosity but hadn’t gotten around to actually applying them because I was waiting for my nails to all get to a decent length. (Supposedly pregnancy is supposed to strengthen nails, but I think it’s made mine more brittle!) They weren’t too hard to apply, but it did take longer than I expected since there’s not really any room for error once you start to stick it on your nail. I could’ve gotten 10 nails done a lot faster just painting them like normal — but then of course I would’ve had to sit around waiting for them to dry. So that’s the big advantage of the stickers! No drying time!
I get pedicures all the time, but I don’t paint my fingernails very often because they chip so quickly. (I’ve been wanting to try one of those gel manicures too, since they’re supposed to last longer.) I was interested to see how long the stickers would last, and I’m happy to report that they are doing pretty well 5 days later. I didn’t have a single chip until last night, and at that point it was only on my thumb. We’ll see how they do through the weekend. I consider 5-7 days pretty darn good, considering that I am not gentle with my hands at all.
2) My OB moved to a new office at the beginning of the month, so when I went for my 35-week appointment on Wednesday I was greeted with a new layout, new furniture, and new accessories in the waiting room like this very colorful pillow. It was made out of a slick taffeta-like fabric so it wasn’t exactly a comfortable throw pillow, but I liked the design of it and couldn’t help taking a closer look to inspect how it was constructed. I concluded that it would actually be pretty easy to make a pillow like this on my own, and just use more desirable materials. And yes, this is how my brain works these days — I see something, and inevitably start to wonder how I could make one myself!
3) It has rained basically non-stop all week. We got 5 or 6 inches here at our house, but other areas to the southwest of us and on the northwest side of Houston got 10, 12, even 15 inches of rain over the last several days. I have not complained one bit and don’t plan to start! After last summer’s horrible drought, I’m kind of enjoying the deluge. And more importantly, it’s keeping the temperatures down — we had several days in a row where the high barely broke 80 degrees! Ahhhh. Heavenly.
(I am, however, reserving the right to complain about the inevitable clouds of mosquitos that will follow all this rain.)
4) I was at Joann a few days ago — because yes, I go there more often than pretty much any other store these days — and was just wandering around when I came across several cute baby items in the cross stitch section. I was very tempted to buy this cute baby announcement to make and hang in the nursery but in the end I managed to resist. When it comes to cross stitch, I’ve learned that my eyes are most definitely larger than my stomach. It takes me forever to finish anything.
My parents are here! Hooray! And after only one night, the layout of the work-in-progress guest room I posted about on Wednesday has already changed, since one side of the bed was too close to the wall. We knew that, but the room is so small that it seemed to be the only layout that would work. We had tried putting the headboard against the wall next to the window, and it just seemed like it filled up the whole room. But my dad and Jose turned it so that the headboard is now against the same wall as the door. I didn’t think it would work, but it actually does. Don’t worry — I still teased my parents heavily about how they came into my house and started moving furniture around like they owned the place. (The nerve!)
It was kind of a strange week at work. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I spent the week getting mixed messages about what I’ve done in the past versus what I will and/or want to be doing in the future. It makes me a little confused about where I stand at the moment. The good news is that I am picking up some new work in an area that should be 1) interesting, 2) active and 3) visible both inside and outside my organization. There may or may not be bad news…I just have to wait and see.
The mosquitos have gone CRAZY in the last three days. I don’t know where they came from, but all of a sudden there are clouds of them. On top of that, they seem to love congregating around our front door, which makes it impossible to enter or leave the house without taking a swarm of bloodsuckers with you. Oh, and did I mention we had several days in a row of 100+ degree weather? Not cool, Mother Nature, not cool.
I haven’t made much progress on my 12 by 2012. (I’m posting updates on that old post for now, if you are interested.) I’m such a slacker. BUT! We have a three-day weekend coming up and not too much planned so I’m planning to tackle clean-up of either the garage or the office, depending on the weather. It’s been alternating between warm and cool lately, and hanging out in the garage isn’t much fun if it’s warm and humid.
Is anyone else tackling a to-do list before the end of the year? Are you making progress? Please tell me I’m not the only huge procrastinator…
We had a real, live thunderstorm late this afternoon. I didn’t even notice the beginning because I was on the treadmill at the Y, but I was stupidly excited to dash to my car in the rain. I can barely remember the last time it rained (Columbus Day weekend?), much less the last time we had a good, solid thunderstorm.
I’m enjoying a much more relaxed week at work after 3-4 solid weeks of go, go, go. I worked my butt off to get my organization through the pre-flight certification process for both Progress 45P, which launched on October 30 carrying cargo and supplies, and Soyuz 28S, which will launch late Sunday night with three new ISS crewmembers. The pre-flight reviews were far crazier than usual since the Russians lost the 44P vehicle in late August. For a while there, I was feeling like nothing more than a chart-making machine.
But late Friday night, after our final day of reviews where I gave three different presentations, I got a super nice and very complimentary email from someone several levels of management above me thanking me for all my efforts. It pretty much made my month, at least as far as work is concerned. Confirmation that someone appreciates my hard work is something that I didn’t get often in some of my previous jobs, but it really makes a difference. I like to feel appreciated, simple as that.
I went for an easy run on Monday night, covering 3.5 miles right around 12:00 pace. I ran the exact same route last night at the exact same time of day with the exact same easy level of effort — and got back to the house a full 3 minutes faster than the night before. It’s amazing what a difference a drop of 15 degrees and 30% humidity makes.
The sun looks different depending on the humidity. On Monday evening, the sun was in my eyes and blinding, and the whole sky way bright…and last night, the sun seemed lower in the sky, and darker. It cast long shadows as I ran along the trail and the light felt different. More orange. More fall-like. I love it.
I was unlucky in the lottery for the 2012 Houston Half Marathon, and I’m not yet sure if I’ll be able to do the RunGirl Half Marathon in December. I haven’t done a race since late June and without a major event on my calendar, I’ve just been kind of drifting along. Some days I run. A lot of days I don’t. I need something to work towards, but I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about what that should be. I may head to the Toughest 10K in Galveston this weekend, but I can’t decide if the entry fee is worth it. The majority of the race is on the I-45 causeway to the island — you run over and back — and I can’t decide if that would be fun or if it would just be boring. I’ll probably go, since doing an organized event usually helps snap me out of the ruts.
I’d like to do a half marathon sometime this winter. It just wouldn’t feel like winter without doing 13.1 at some point!
We actually had some gray clouds of our own over the weekend and got a whopping 0.3 inches of rain at my house. I’ll take anything I can get at this point. League City has gone to a “no watering whatsoever” policy due to the ongoing drought. I want to follow the rules but I also don’t want the plants in my backyard to die so here’s my solution: I showered with a bucket sitting on the floor over the weekend and made Jose do the same. One shower is enough to fill the bucket with a couple gallons of water, so that’s 4-5 gallons of water per day that I can get in a legitimate manner since we’re going to shower, obviously, and if I wasn’t catching it in a bucket, it’d just be going down the drain.
I amuse myself with my overkill stealth-watering plan.
(Speaking of the watering ban, I have taken much amusement from the comments on League City’s Facebook page. Let’s just say people are irrationally irate that they can’t fill their swimming pools or wash their cars. There are also people worried about not being able to water their foundation, which I will admit is a slightly more rational concern. Still, it’s amazing to see the number of people who don’t appear to understand what “severe drought” means.)
Now that I am in the Safety division, our weekly division meeting always begins with a safety topic or case study. Today’s was a look at what caused the 2009 Washington DC metro crash and what could have been done to prevent it. This was timely considering I was just riding that metro a week ago…so I’m glad that safety topic came up AFTER our trip and not before.
Work is a bit crazy at the moment. I have way too much to do between now and the end of September, although on the plus side the next 6 weeks will be nicely split by a full week of vacation with friends. Still, having too much to do is a nice contrast to what I’ve experienced at other points in my career so having too much to do should be taken as simply a statement of fact rather than a complaint.
I tackled my next sewing project over the weekend — making a replacement for the laundry bag that fits in our hamper. I washed the old bag once and it shrank so much that it never fit around the rim of the hamper again. You’d think that making a new one would be easy enough…and it wasn’t the sewing that got me but rather my (lack of) measuring skills. I made an entire new bag and it looked great, but when I tried it out and it was still too small. Sewing fail!
So you may have noticed if you follow me on Twitter that there was big news yesterday:
Yes, after 148 straight days with only the faintest traces of precipitation — a new record by far — we finally got some solid thunderstorms. Heck, I can’t even remember the last time we had a cloudy day, much less a good hard rain. As an added bonus, the cloud cover finally gave us a brief respite from the never-ending string of 100+ degree heat index days.
I eagerly checked the rain gauge on our backyard fence as soon as I got home from work and was jumping with joy to see that we got nearly 2 inches at our house. Of course this doesn’t do much for the overall drought down here, as we’re still far below normal rainfall for the year. (We got something like 0.1 inches of rain in all of April and May, which are usually the two wettest months.) I know it’s probably my imagination, but I swear things already look greener.
In other news, I was sore in all sorts of places after swimming on Monday night. A long layoff from swimming may not make me any slower, but it sure does mean that my muscles don’t remember what it’s like to pull through the water. And I forgot how much you use your core muscles when swimming — even my midsection was sore yesterday.Yet another sign that I should swim more often.
Last year Jose and I signed up for a membership to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. One of the things that comes along with that, in addition to discounts and that kind of thing, is a newsletter that shows up in the mailbox once every few months. I usually flip through it to see what’s going on and then toss it, and last month something caught my eye — the museum was organizing a tour of the Houston/Galveston National Weather Service office, which happens to be only a few short miles from our house! I’ve noticed their radar dome many times but had never been inside. I immediately signed us up — and it’s a good thing I did because a day later when I went back to get the link so I could send it to our friends, it was already sold out.
The tour was on Saturday morning and as expected, it was very interesting. (As a random aside, we were totally the youngest people there by a longshot, which made me laugh.) Their office is in Dickinson and has been there for a while. The forecaster who led the tour was Josh Lichter, and he’s worked there for 17 years. (He has a degree in meteorology from Florida State, in case you’re wondering about educational background like I was.) When he started, he must have thought he was living in the middle of nowhere, but now there’s all kinds of development around — subdivisions, retail, schools, etc. A few years ago, they moved from their old office to a new building just down the street, which they share with the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management. It’s the first weather office in the country to be co-located with emergency services, and Josh said it’s been a huge benefit to them, especially during big events like Hurricane Ike and the “ice storm” we had earlier this year.
First we went outside to look across the road at the Doppler radar. Their old office was in the building right next to the radar. It takes 6 minutes for the radar to complete a full scan — it starts by scanning straight out and then incrementally changes the elevation of the dish to get the full picture of the weather at different altitudes. The Houston/Galveston office is responsible for several counties as well as offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Fun fact #1: By the time you get up to Conroe, the radar can only see weather from about 10,000 feet altitude and up (due to the curvature of the Earth, Jose and I assumed). Fun fact #2: Their radar and all the other radars that the TV stations have are basically the same technology. So all that “Super Mega Ultimate Doppler 5000 Max” stuff that the local news advertises is a BIT exaggerated. (No surprise there.)
While we were outside, we also go to see the super duper high-tech rain gauge. And by super duper high-tech, I mean they have a metal bucket in the yard and every 6 hours if it’s rained, they go outside with a ruler, measure how much water is in the bucket, and empty it. Technology at its finest! As you can imagine, the bucket hasn’t been gathering much except dust lately, but while we were there on Saturday there was a small raincloud that passed over us! It rained 0.06 inches! Woo! Funny stories: they have also found critters (including snakes) in the bucket, and once they found water even when they knew it hadn’t rained. Turns out the lawn sprinklers were hitting the bucket each go-round. The only time the bucket has ever overflowed before they were able to go out and measure was during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.
The bottom of those pillars is around 15 feet elevation, so in theory the building is safe up to 25 feet or more of hurricane storm surge. They might have issues with power though, since that big white thing in the background is their backup generator, which is good for at least a week (or maybe two weeks — I can’t remember). The radio tower is really more of an Emergency Management piece of equipment.
Next, we went inside and up to the third floor where there are a couple bunk rooms. Again, these are really more for the Emergency Services folks. The weather office is staffed 24/7, but obviously they go home between shifts unless some really major weather event is going on. Josh said he’s only used the bunk rooms once, I think — back in February when they were monitoring the ice storm and he wasn’t able to drive home because the roads were a bit slick. Nevertheless, they are available if needed.
Overall, it’s a pretty standard office with no big surprises but they do have a couple features that will seem quite familiar to NASA-junkies because it’s a lot like our Mission Control Center. This room is mainly for GCOEM and has consoles for various departments — everyone from the county judge (or a representative from that office) to the weather service to representatives for each division in the county. FYI to fellow League City residents: we are in the North Division along with Dickinson, Friendswood, Clear Lake Shores, and Kemah.
From there, we went into a conference room where Josh showed us all kinds of cool computer tools the forecasters use to do their job. He showed us all kinds of radar images and satellite images. We saw the huge high pressure ridge that’s been parked over Texas for weeks that’s keeping all the much-needed rain away. He talked about weather balloons and how they get their data and computer models that help them predict what will happen, and how things have changed over time as technology has improved. We saw the smoke from the Arizona wildfires on the satellite image. We saw how clouds form over land but the skies over bodies of water stay clear longer because it takes more time for water to heat up during the day.
We asked lots of questions about watches and warnings and who’s responsible for what. Fun facts: tornado warnings (i.e. a tornado has been spotted in person or on radar) are issued by the local office, but tornado watches (i.e. conditions are favorable) are issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma. Hurricane watches and warnings are issued by the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Flash flood watches and warnings are issued by the local office. The local office also handles marine and aviation forecasts, as well as the regular local forecast, so they have a ton of products that they’re responsible for. The National Weather Service is the only entity legally allowed to issue watches and warnings, so while the Weather Channel and local stations and all sorts of other entities may do their own forecasting, they cannot issue watches or warnings themselves.
At the end of the tour, we finally got to see the NWS operations center, which was surprisingly low key. There are 4 desks — if I remember correctly, one is for the Forecaster on duty, one is for someone handling the marine and offshore weather, one that is the Public Service desk that publishes updates and handles the weather radio broadcast, and one desk that’s available for “standby” support if needed. (Josh said the fourth person would usually be monitoring the radar during big storms or other events.) All of the NWS offices work together to provide backup to each other if necessary. If something caused the Houston/Galveston Office to go down, the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin/San Antonio, Corpus Christi or Lake Charles offices could all cover for them. The office also has direct lines to the Hurricane Center and to the National Warning System.
Overall, it was a very neat tour and I learned a lot. If you are interested, the Houston/Galveston Office has a TON of information available on their website — everything from the standard weekly forecast to drought information to weather briefings from the forecasters and of course the local radar. (I finally learned what the difference is between the “base reflectivity” and “composite reflectivity” on the radar! Base is just at the base level, i.e. the lowest the radar can see, but composite includes all altitudes.) They also have a Facebook page and will be on Twitter soon. They even have a sense of humor: “Monday: Showers likely, mostly cloudy with a high near 62 (in Seattle, WA). Otherwise…more of the same dryness and heat here in SE Texas.”
But one of the coolest things I learned is how much interaction they have with the public. They really do depend on reports from anyone and everyone to help them keep track of what goes on in their area — you can post to their Facebook page (last week some people in Galveston were able to post photos of waterspouts that the NWS had not predicted) and they even have a program called Skywarn where you can take a short, free training course and become an official storm spotter.
I am now ready to be an expert armchair meteorologist! Watch out world!
I’ve been whining a lot this week on Facebook and Twitter, so I’m going to take a moment to get it out of my system. Here goes:
FIRST, my mother-in-law had major back surgery yesterday, so that has been on my mind.
AND, this week I’ve had to be at work at 7:30, 7:00, 7:00 and 6:30. I’m really, really tired. Like REALLY. I fully recognize that many people get up much earlier than me, but when I’ve spent almost 9 years arriving in the 8:30-9:30 time frame, anything that starts with a 7 is a rude awakening. I’ve been getting to bed fairly early, but I’m still tired. And when I’m tired, I’m cranky. On top of the early arrivals, I’ve also had meetings late in the afternoon, so I can’t even leave early. Normally a 7:00 meeting would mean I can leave at 3 or 3:30, but this week I’ve been here until almost 5:00 every day. Boo.
AND, this morning my computer wouldn’t fully boot. Instead, it just told me it was “loading my personal settings” and never went any farther. I gave up and resigned myself to working on the group laptop today where I only had access to about 25% of the items I needed. I let my computer just let it sit there, and after an HOUR, the “loading settings” screen disappeared and it magically started. So ok, it wasn’t broken, it just took AN HOUR to start. Because THAT’S normal. In the end, apparently a software update the IT guys pushed yesterday went bad for some users, and I got to be one of those lucky users. Because a morning without my computer was exactly what I needed today. (Can you hear my sarcasm? Side note: it’s rather scary how little work I can do without my computer.)
AND, my nose is sniffly and I feel like I’m getting a cold. I’ve felt this way for 2 weeks now, so I guess it’s just the weather.
AND, it’s freaking cold outside and this building is not well insulated, so I’m currently typing this with gloves on. The guy who came to fix my computer this morning asked if it was hard to type with gloves on. I told him it’s also hard to type when your hands are numb from cold, so gloves seemed like the better option.
Ok. Now that I’m done, I can be a little more positive!
FIRST, Jose’s mom’s surgery went really well. It was basically a repeat of a surgery she had in mid-2008, but 24 hours later she’s already doing much better than she was at this point last time. Recovery from back surgery is slow, but so far she’s doing great. Yay!
AND, yes, I’ve had a lot of early meetings, but they’ve also been pretty good meetings. I’ve gotten information I needed and asked questions I want answered. Having to stay late in the afternoon just means I’m racking up credit hours that I can use sometime in the future to take a day off. And this weekend I get to catch up on all my sleep.
AND, my computer is fixed now.
AND, here are my race photos from the half marathon. They are not actually all that bad! Even in the picture of me with Kelly and Melissa, I don’t look TOO gigantic, and that’s saying a lot because they are tiny.
AND, it’s supposed to be warmer this weekend and even into the 70s next week, so hopefully today’s windchill in the teens is that very last time we’ll see that this winter.
There is no snow, but still: snow day! Work is closed. The only other time that’s happened in my many years here was the week after Hurricane Ike. So let the jokes begin about how Houston cannot handle cold weather — it’s true. But then again, I’ve never lived anywhere that it snowed or iced regularly so I don’t really know how to handle it either. And a free day off work when I can just stay home and relax? I’ll take that ANY day of the year.
On tap for today: sleeping late (check!), drinking hot coffee (check!), and staying warm and toasty inside my house.
It’s in the 20s with a windchill in single digits here today. For Houston, that pretty much means it’s the apocalypse.
There are rolling blackouts — ROLLING BLACKOUTS — because the power company can’t keep up with the demand for heat. I don’t completely understand how the power companies can keep up with the demand for air conditioning on 100+ degree days in August but can’t keep up on a day like today. And a lot of us have gas furnaces! I understand that electricity is still needed to run the fans to blow the air around, but the heat itself is being created via another method. Something does not compute.
The roads were chaotic this morning not because of snow or ice or precipitation of any kind, but because all the traffic lights were out or flashing. Rolling blackouts. Ridiculous.
It’s fun for northerners to make fun of those of us in the south. We don’t handle cold very well, I admit. But windchill of 9 degrees? I don’t have clothes to keep me warm in a windchill of 9 degrees! The buildings here are not insulated well enough to stay warm when it’s below freezing all day. I’m already dreading work because I know I will be cold ALL DAY in my office.
They’re predicting 1-3 inches of snow on Thursday night. We’ve had two instances of snow in recent years, but nothing like 1-3 inches. The whole city will shut down if that happens. Disaster is upon us!
And did I mention yesterday morning it was 70 degrees outside? Oh Houston, you and your wacky weather.