Dancing across the water (surreal waterspouts)

July 26, 2013

waterspout noaaLast week we saw a photo of an incredible waterspout near Tampa Bay Florida (included below) and thought this would be a great topic for today’s Friday Fotos post.

Waterspouts are spinning columns of rising moist air that typically form over warm water.  The Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida is arguably the most active area in the world for waterspouts, with hundreds forming each year. Some people speculate that waterspouts are responsible for some of the losses recorded in the Bermuda Triangle per NASA.

According to NOAA Ocean Facts waterspouts fall into two categories…

Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado, are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning.

Fair weather waterspouts usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds. This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms. While tornadic waterspouts develop downward in a thunderstorm, a fair weather waterspout develops on the surface of the water and works its way upward. By the time the funnel is visible, a fair weather waterspout is near maturity.

If a waterspout moves onshore in the U.S., the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, as some of them can cause significant damage and injuries to people. Typically, fair weather waterspouts dissipate rapidly when they make landfall, and rarely go far inland.

But enough talking already … here is a tiny sampling of some beautiful twisted water dancing formations…

waterspout albania photo by roberto Giudici

4 (of 10 sighted) waterspouts near the coast of Albania 1999; Credit & Copyright: Roberto Giudici via CSU

waterspout grandisle louisiana photo by adam frey

Grand Isle, Louisiana June 2013; Credit: Adam Frey via WWLTV

waterspout bahamas photo by NOAA

Waterspouts in the Bahamas Islands Credit: NOAA’s NWS Collection

Tampa Bay Florida waterspout photo by joey mole via NASA

Gorgeous waterspout near Tampa Bay Florida July 2013; Image Credit & Copyright: Joey Mole via NASA

Below video shows a series of powerful waterspouts near New South Wales coast. Several powerful columns of swirling air could be seen blasting along the water’s surface near the coastline. Australia’s Channel 7 claimed the spouts reached heights of up to 600 metres (nearly two thousand feet), but dissipated as they neared land.

Find more waterspout photos and info in NOAA’s Photo Library or on Islandnet.com

Stay safe & have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B


Beautiful views from above (photos of North America from NASA satellites and ISS)

July 19, 2013

cleveland alaska volcano by nasa“Space … the final frontier” are famous words from a fave show of many boomers, Gen-Xers and others.

And while NASA provides us with many breathtaking photos of our solar system and beyond, they also share incredible shots of our planet from their satellites and by astronauts in the International Space Station.

We hope you enjoy today’s Friday Fotos with a short description of each provided by The Weather Channel and NASA. And remember these are just a tiny sampling of earth’s amazing beauty so check out some links below to visit TWC and NASA photo galleries.

 grand canyon national park photo by nasa
The Advanced Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft provided this spacebird’s-eye view of the eastern part of Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona in this image, acquired July 14, 2011. (NASA)

crater lake national park Oregon photo by nasa

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. Landsat 5 acquired this image on September 9, 2011. Vegetation is green, bare ground is brown, smoke is white and water is blue. (NASA/GSFC/Landsat)

everglades national park photo by nasa

Everglades National Park in southern Florida is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Known as the ‘river of grass,’ the Everglades wetlands and wooded uplands host a variety of endangered species including crocodiles, manatees, and panthers. (NASA)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park appalachians photo by nasa

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the ridge line of the Appalachian Mountains in the southern United States. The border between Tennessee to the west and North Carolina to the east runs vertically through the middle of the park. (NASA)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park photo by nasa

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. On March 5, 2011, one of the world’s most active volcanoes—Kilauea—surged with flows of fresh lava and the opening of a new fissure. The eruption touched off a forest fire that burned for much of the month and threatened one of Hawaii’s protected rain forests. (NASA)

bahamas photo from international space station

The south end of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas shimmers in turquoise waters in this 2002 photo from the International Space Station.

See more amazing photos on The Weather Channel site  or visit NASA’s Earth Day gallery and NASA Image Gallery

Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B


Snow plows in July?? (NM storm dumps over a foot of hail clogging roads)

July 12, 2013

hail piles up city street santa rosa fdThe Weather Channel reports a lone thunderstorm dumped over a foot of hail in the town of Santa Rosa, New Mexico last Wednesday evening (July 3, 2013), leaving a surreal sight the day before the Fourth of July.

Photos from the Santa Rosa Fire Department showed snow plows clearing city streets clogged with accumulated hail drifts. According to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, hail up to golfball size pelted the city around 6:00 p.m. MDT.

Although this sounds strange, accumulating hail is not uncommon in the High Plains according to TWC. Northeast New Mexico sits in what meteorologists call “Hail Alley“, a swath from southeast Wyoming and northeast Colorado to northeast New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle, where large hail falls on average at least three days a year.

And, considering much of the country is sweltering with intense heat, we thought this might be a “cool” set of Friday Fotos to share.

hailstorm santa rosa police vehicle new mexico state police

A police vehicle navigates a hail-clogged street in Santa Rosa, N.M. on July 3, 2013. (Credit: N.M. State Police)

hail santa rosa photo by nm state police

A few of accumulated hail on a street in Santa Rosa, N.M. on July 3, 2013. (Credit: N.M State Police)

record hailstone vivian sd nws

As fyi … above is the record-setting hailstone that fell in Vivian, South Dakota on July 23, 2010. The hailstone broke the U.S. records for largest hailstone by diameter (8 inches / 20 cm) and weight (1 pound 15 ounces). Credit: NWS Aberdeen, SD

TWC writes some other unusual hailstorm events include:

  • April 11, 2012 (Dumas, TX): The volume of both hail and rain overwhelmed a shallow gully, or draw, near the U.S. 287 bridge, piling the water and ice mass into massive drifts up to 10 feet high, trapping vehicles and forcing closure of the road for 12 hours.
  • August 14, 2004 (Clayton, NM): Up to 16-foot hail glaciers. Some ice cover lasted almost a month…even in late summer!
  • May 9, 1994 (Dalhart, TX): Up to three-foot hail drifts shutdown U.S. 385 for almost one month

We also found a short video by TWC’s Dr Greg Forbes explaining how thunderstorms produce hail.

Stay safe and cool out there .. and have a great weekend! 🙂 j & B


Tribute to our Arizona 19 (and some ways to help families of the fallen firefighters)

July 5, 2013

yarnell hill fire granite mountain hotshotsAs we posted earlier this week, Arizona lost 19 of our elite firefighters in the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013.

On July 1st a caravan of 19 vans took the bodies to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office to perform autopsies since the Yavapai County authorities didn’t have the resources to handle so many casualties.

The remains of our Fallen Firefighters will be escorted, with full Honor Guard, from Phoenix to the Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office on Sunday, July 7, beginning at 10 a.m. PDT. A majority of the route from Phoenix to Prescott Valley is open to the public for those who would like to pay tribute, and the procession route  is available on YarnellFallenFirefighters.com.

Then a Memorial Service will be held Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific.

We wanted to take another moment to honor our Granite Mountain Hotshots with several photos we found on Facebook this week, and provide some links to several organizations that are raising funds for the families of these heroes. Also please take a moment to view a video tribute by elledub1015 at the bottom.

yarnell hill fire photo by andrew ashcraft

The final photo Arizona firefighter Andrew Ashcraft texted to his wife before persishing in the Yarnell Hill fire – from Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots FB page

Yarnell Hill Fire photo by Wade Parker before overcome by fire

Wade Parker sent this photo of a crew mate and the approaching fire by text message to his mother before he and 18 other firefighters were fatally overrun by flames in the Arizona blaze. “This thing is running straight for Yarnell,” he wrote in the 4:04 p.m. text. (Wade Parker / June 30, 2013) via LA Times

prescott fire chain with 19 links

A chain with 19 links hangs locked on the fence outside the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew fire station, Monday, July 1, 2013 in Prescott, Ariz. The chain, left by Slade Graves, has 19 links to signify 19 men linked. Graves said she wanted to give the combination of the lock to the survivor of the team. Photo via FB pg

arizona 19 out of the ashes National Firefighters Endowment

Designed by National Firefighters Endowment via FB

Anthem tribute Arizona 19 from Daisy mountain

Anthem, Arizona tribute to the fallen firefighters, at the top of Daisy Mountain, looking west toward Yarnell. July 4, 2013. via FB

salute to Arizona 19

Photo credit: unknown via FB

How to help the families of our fallen heroes

The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Incident Management Team has raised more than $800,000 through three firefighter-endorsed organizations: the 100 Club of Arizona, the Wildland Firefighters Foundation, and the United Phoenix Firefighters Association. Other similar websites have also been created, but their intent or credibility has not been verified. The Team encourages all donors to first check the credibility and confirm their 501C3 status before donating.

The Prescott Firefighter’s Charities is operated by Prescott firefighters, and they are ensuring 100% of any and all donations will go to the families of the fallen firefighters. No money will be diverted for administration costs, advertising, etc. The only exception is a 2.3% processing fee charged by PayPal, which is a lower fee than typical credit card transaction rates. Learn more

Yavapai College is creating a scholarship fund for the children and spouses of the 19 firefighters who died battling the wildfire in Yarnell. Officials at the Prescott school say some of the Granite Mountain Hotshots team members were Yavapai College students and many were in its fire science program. The Granite Mountain Hotshots Scholarship Fund will provide two-year scholarships for the community college education needs of the children and spouses of the fallen firefighters. Read more

A Tribute

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the families of the fallen Arizona 19 (a.k.a. Prescott 19), the cities of Yarnell and Prescott, and the entire FF/EMS Brotherhood. Rest in peace…


Flash BOOM! (Stunning lightning photos)

June 28, 2013

Since Lightning Safety week is winding down, we wanted to share some absolutely stunning lightning Friday Fotos. Also please take a moment to read Monday’s Lightning safety tips post … and we included a few links at the bottom with more cool photos and a spectacular lightning strike video. Enjoy!

lightning grand canyon

Lightning storm over Arizona’s magnificent Grand Canyon via allthatisinteresting

lightning in ikaria photo chris kotsiopoulos

This composite of 70 different shots shows a severe lighting storm as it passes over the Greek island of Ikaria. Source: Chris Kotsiopoulos

lightning positive cg by shear atmos

‘Positive CG’. Supercell lightning at Coffs Harbour. Image (c) Kane Hardie 2010

lightning eiffel tower caters news agency

Amateur photographer Bertrand Kulik captured this once in a lifetime shot at the exact moment a ferocious lightning bolt appears to strike the iconic Eiffel Tower. Photo: Caters News Agency via NaturePlanet.info

lightning chaiten volcano Photo: Carlos Gutierrez

Lightning bolts appear above and around the Chaiten volcano as seen from Chana, some 30 kms (19 miles) north of the volcano, as it began its first eruption in thousands of years, in southern Chile May 2, 2008. Cases of electrical storms breaking out directly above erupting volcanoes are well documented, although scientists differ on what causes them. Photo: Carlos Gutierrez

lightning antimatter beams popsci

Antimatter Beams: Now you know what they look like. John Fowler via Flickr/CC licensed via POPSCI

Also check out some awesome volcanic eruptions and our Venezuela’s Catatumbo Lightning post … and watch an incredible short video by Tom A. Warner called Lightning captured at 7,207 images per second . Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B


Friday Fotos: Magnificent Supermoon rising

June 21, 2013

supermoonSummer in the northern hemisphere officially began at 1:04 a.m. EDT Friday, June 21 (5:04 am UT).

National Geographic explains during this season, the Earth’s northern axis is slightly tilted toward the sun so that the northern hemisphere gets more direct sunlight and experiences warmer temperatures. Locations south of the equator are tilted away from the sun, so that the sunlight is dispersed, making for colder temperatures.

For skywatchers on the first day of the new season and a few days afterward the sun appears to rise at the same place on the horizon – hence the origin of the word solstice, meaning ‘sun stands still’ in Latin.

Supermoon this weekend

June Solstice also offers some amazing moon visuals. SPACE.com says in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 23, 2013, the moon will reach perigee — the closest point to Earth in the rocky satellite’s orbit around the planet. Although some people have suggested that the supermoon might drive people crazy, cause natural disasters and wreak havoc on the tides, there is scant evidence in support of those claims, NASA assures.

supermoon chart NASA

NASA planetary geologist Noah Petro said today on NASA TV that while the tides might be slightly higher because of the moon’s close approach, it won’t make a noticeable difference for the average observer. The only thing that humans might experience this weekend is a good lunar show. So… in anticipation of this weekend’s eye candy, we wanted to share some gorgeous supermoon shots from previous years in today’s Friday Fotos post.

supermoon athens greece 2012 photo AP dimitri messinis

Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, SE of Athens, Greece 2012 (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis) via The Atlantic

supermoon seattle space needle 2012 photo by liem bahneman via KOMO

Supermoon rises over Seattle 2012 (Photo ©Liem Bahneman via KOMO)

supermoon manhattan 2012 reuters gary hershom

Lower Manhattan 2012 (Reuters/Gary Hershorn via The Atlantic)

supermoon Ajorbahman’s Collection via WebEcoist

Image: Ajorbahman’s Collection

Also check out our post of a gorgeous Tucson Moonrise … and remember to watch the supermoon this Sunday! Or catch a live webcast of the supermoon on SPACE.com on Sunday beginning at 9 pm EDT (0100 June 24 GMT), courtesy of the Slooh Space Camera.

Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone! 🙂  j & B


Wildfires: Scenes from the front lines

June 14, 2013

Colorado wildfire photo by APDozens of wildfires are currently scorching the western U.S. with Colorado and New Mexico getting hit the hardest recently … but unfortunately the country still has a long, hot summer to go.

Wildfires consume nearly 8 million acres of forested land each year on average across the United States.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports as of June 14, 2013 there have been 19,472 fires across the U.S. which have burned 461,850 acres year-to-date so the country is way below average … for now.

In today’s Friday Fotos we wanted to share some wildfire scenes from the front lines including helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and the amazing firefighters.

wildfire colorado burning photo by John Wark Reuters

wildfire Sikorsky Picking Up Water

Below: Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter drops 600 gallons of water on a fire

wildfire black hawk

Below: Black Hawk helicopters from the Army Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colo., perform water drops using Bambi Buckets®. The buckets can carry up to 500 gallons of water and make more than 20 drops before refueling. (Photo by Air Force Capt. Darin Overstreet) See more NG photos from Colorado’s Black Forest fire

wildfire black hawk photo by Air Force Capt Darin Overstreet

A MAFFS C-130 drops retardant on the Black Forest Fire, June 12, 2013. The modular airborne firefighting systems (MAFFS) can drop up to 3000 gallons of retardant covering an area one-quarter of a mile long and 60 feet wide. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault

A MAFFS C-130 drops retardant photo US Army Sgt Jonathan C. Thibault

wildfire firefighter photo by AP

Download some free safety tips from our IT’S A DISASTER! book about evacuations, wildfires and more … and stay safe out there! j & B


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