Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New Post-Apocalyptic Novel

41 Days: Apocalypse Underground

After the nukes fall
In a secret biohazard facility, survival may be possible
Until a knock comes at the door...

Available exclusively at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

Monday, August 22, 2016

Advanced Hurricane Links

earth.nullschool.net via Mr. Masters

After this post, I promised to give you more links on hurricanes. Here they are!

One important factor in if a tropical wave will develop into a storm with a closed circulation--and possibly into a dangerous hurricane--is the wind sheer. Here's one map with sheer. Sheer can tear apart a hurricane.

I originally found these U/WI maps through this site, which explains in brief many of the maps you can link in the above UWisc site. The first time I looked at many of them, I thought “what am I looking at?” But the more you look, and the more you go back to explanations, the clearer the maps appear. Those of you who might watch The Weather Channel but have not dug deeply into how hurricanes form will have heard many of these terms: sheer, vorticity, convergence, and divergence. So here is that information which those forecasters look at before summarizing it for the broadcast audience. 

A great map to look at when you want to become a thoughtful amateur forecaster is this one, the depth of the 26C ocean layer. The redder, the deeper. This matters because hurricanes derive energy from hot ocean water, and because as they strengthen, they churn up deeper layers of ocean. If those deeper layers are cold, hurricanes can "turn themselves off" by doing this churning. But if the heat goes deep, they can churn and churn and still get fed. Katrina is a textbook example of one that had a deep 26C isotherm to feed from.

NOAA 22 August 2016

Large-scale weather patterns help determine where hurricanes are likely to develop in any given month. Dr. Masters at Weather Underground revisits the basics of the CCKW (convectively coupled Kelvin wave), MJO (Madden-Julian oscillation), and La Nina/El Nino,  from time to time. Here is a link to his recent post on these. I was particularly happy to see this one because I’d been watching the TIW -- that wavy cold temperature thing off South America in the top image of this post--developing and getting colder, and I had no idea what it was called. I was fairly certain “wavy cold temperature thing” was not the term the pros would use. I’m relieved that now I know: Tropical Instability Wave.

Let's return to the super-cool site earth.nullschool.net. I'm linking you here directly to the No. Atlantic. Watch the winds blow for a moment. (Soothing, isn't it?...except maybe for Floridians.) Now hit "I" on your keyboard. And keep hitting it. What this will do is take you upward through the layers of air, all the way up to the stratosphere. The redder the lines, the faster the wind is blowing.

You’ll notice that if you hunt down more and more links that explain these images and why they're important, you’ll start seeing calculus equations...and I admit, that’s where I stop my researches. If it takes calc to unpeel the next layer of understanding, I’ve learned enough for fiction-writing purposes. This ends up being a good thing, for if I didn’t have some sort of trigger to stop me, I’d do nothing but research and write no novels!

A friend wrote me an email this morning and said, "What, are you psychic? How did you know to post these hurricane links when you did?" No, I'm not psychic! If you watch African weather and do it from year to year, you learn to see them coming a long way off. To someone living in 1888 on the Gulf Coast, your or my ability to forecast hurricanes would seem like magic, wouldn't it?

And yes, there will be a hurricane novel one day to take its place beside my tornado, earthquake, and volcano novels, Storm, Quake, and Erupt. I have many ideas, and a person can only write a handful of books every year.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hurricane links

As the North Atlantic hurricane season is starting in earnest, I wanted to mention some of my favorite links that I, an amateur weather nerd, follow enthusiastically when a tropical depression has become a hurricane, particularly one that will hit land. Most of these will work for anywhere in the world, so you don’t have to be a North American to find your local storm information.

Image, NOAA/Wikimedia commons

NOAA National Hurricane Center advisories. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ The top NHC meteorologists break it down for you every three hours during an active storm.

Maps. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/satellite.php Click through the various loops: Dvorak, satellite, funktop, and others, and you’ll learn a lot simply by comparing the images. (Read up a little, and you’ll learn more) Some show cloud height in different colors and some show wind speeds in different colors, some show water vapor. Interesting stuff.

Earthnull.nethttps://earth.nullschool.net/ Surface winds, and a beautiful presentation. Being the nerd I am, I can spend an hour spinning the globe, magnifying, moving back out, figuring out what’s happening and how it all connects, watching the dance of the winds on this tiny planet we call home. Isn’t the internet cool?!?

capture 15:12UT, 13 August 2016, Pacific Ocean

Weather Underground’s hurricane update, https://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/ , often updated 2-3 times a day when the winds are blowing. Dr. Masters and the other scientists are great (link to that blog on right side of page), and the comments on the blog run from the head-scratchingly silly to the brilliant amateur with good insights and of course with plenty of needless internet bickering.

When a hurricane develops, for video storm coverage, nothing is better for me the writer, wanting to know what it feels like on the ground to normal people, than finding a local news station that streams and is covering it full-time. I can’t give you specific links, for my crystal ball is at the shop and I can’t tell you where the next hurricane landfall will be in North America. Name a big city in the area of likely impact, google that and “live streaming television” and you should find something.

Also, there are often webcams on beaches, on boardwalks, and at resort hotels aimed out to sea. Whereas live TV coverage streamed from Mexico is nearly impossible to find, webcams are common enough at resort towns, so even Mexican landfalls can often be watched. Switching between cameras at various locations can give you that feel of being there, watching the thing come at you. Often, the weather knocks out the feed when winds are over 80 mph, but until then, it’s fascinating to check in on the images from time to time. Again, googling should find some for you. Sometimes, a city’s chamber of commerce or tourism site has links to several.

You may ask me, “Lou, so after your morning hours of writing or revising or proofreading are over, how many hours can you spend moving from one of these sites to the next when a full-scale hurricane (or something akin, like Sandy) is moving in?” And the answer to that is, 12 hours, easily.

All together now. “Weather nerd!”

Stay tuned for part two, some more advanced links.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Short Story: Wendig's Flash Fiction challenge

Chuck Wendig over at Terrible Minds blog issues a flash fiction challenge. I was reading and laughing over his blog (he wants us to laugh, so that's a good thing), and I decided to spend an hour (okay, 90 minutes) writing to order for him. So here's my genre mash-up of Climate Change fiction (a lucky roll for me because I have a far future world built that I can fit this into easily) and Fable (a not-so-lucky roll for me because I don't typically write fables, but then maybe lucky too because it's always good to stretch one's writing muscles.)

 (This story has been removed to comply with Amazon's Terms of Service. It is available in the collection Timeless.)