Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Update on looming cold

Well, it seems that this time the models are deciding that the cold air doesn't win.

The new runs of both the GFS and thee GEM global are backing off on a) how far south and b) for how long the cold air will plunge. I like this a lot better, although my really really dirty car (from all the melting slop) doesn't.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Reinforcement of cold by the weekend?

The forecast models are giving us another shot of cold weather by the end of the weekend, bringing March in (sort of) like a lion.

How long will the cold air last? Who knows. The GFS has the cold air entrenched until the end of its iteration (that means at least until mid-March), and the GEM global has the cold air being flushed out by midweek.

Also, the models tend to disagree on the coldness of the air. GEM global snaps us with a sharp cold front Sunday evening, while GFS (more) gradually cools us down on Monday morning. Highs forecast by GEM global look to be in the -25°C range, while GFS is more moderate, at -15°.

So we have 2 different scenarios, neither of which is likely to be exactly right. Worst case scenario: the GEM is right with the coldness of the air and the GFS is right with the duration of the cold snap. I just hope that doesn't come true. One big cold snap was plenty for this winter.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

ellipsis in weather bulletins

have you ever seen a weather bulletin and wondered why things are done in a certain way? probably not. but i'm going to talk about one of them anyhow.

the ellipsis, a series of dots, is used often in weather bulletins. most often, it is used in the place of a comma. to wit:


the use of this is because, way back when, weather bulletins could not support commas. the comma was used as a special internal communications character (can't remember for what) and if you ever inserted one into your typing, you would mess up the bulletin.

the problem is, nowadays the comma is not used for internal purposes. but for some reason, many many many weather bulletins are written a) without commas where they are grammatically needed, and b) with ellipses in their stead.

i've likely used the ellipsis inappropriately, too, when writing up weather bulletins. i'm (among other things) a grammar geek (i know, i type in all lower case--that's beside the point) and as such, i cannot, in any good conscience, misuse ellipses like this anymore. if you catch me in such a misuse, please feel free to call me on it!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

ideas for the course this year

pat, jay, john and i met at tim horton's yesterday (my fave place, i'm sure you knew that already) to talk about changes for the course coming up.

we're looking at the following (with an eye to doing this in the future, but not necessarily this year, due to logistics):

  • giving on-the-road lectures using a laptop attached to a couple of portable dvd players (monitors); this has the added bonus of enabling the students to watch movies on the move in down time
  • getting gps with maps and navigational information built in
  • getting internet access anywhere using cellular service
  • getting better map printing power
  • relaxing the prerequisites for the course
  • taking the focus of the classroom part of the course even more away from the purely theoretical and more into the practical

i'm sure there were more, but it's late now and i'm pretty tired--i've been researching this stuff all day.

on another note, the cold spell is going to end. FINALLY. winter in winnipeg has been a pretty good one, save for 2 weeks of unrelenting cold. (and when i say "cold", i mean cooooooooold. as in, the temperature has barely been above -20°C for the entire time, with a low of -41.7 one night. that's enough for me.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

update on the course

not that there is much of an update, mind you.

we're looking into more and upgraded equipment, streamlining the instruction, having dvd players in the vans (for teaching on the fly, of course, but late night movies can't be a bad thing once in a while), and looking into sponsorship.

one of our sponsorship leads hasn't panned out, but another looks like it will come through. if and when we can confirm sponsorship of the course and the science and teaching we're doing, we'll be sure to give them a huge plug.

in other news, we hit an 11-year low temperature of -41.7, at least at the airport, on monday morning. it was somewhat warmer in the city core, due to the urban heat island effect, but cold is cold is cold. there's little warmup in the offing, at least for the next week, as proffered by the models.