Thursday, August 07, 2008


Originally uploaded by battyden
Watching Battyden's short time-lapse of shifting cloud layers made me vaguely sad all of a sudden. A decade ago, I could watch this sort of movement over a period of time and roughly forecast the weather. One cool-not-cold April day in the eastern Sierra, I was sitting in the hot water of Grover Hot Springs, watching the clouds above me, and told my companion that based on what I was seeing, the temperature would drop 10-20 degrees over the next two hours, and we might get some precipitation. He laughed. We sat awhile longer, then each entered our respective changing rooms to get dressed to go eat dinner. A bit later, as I was tying my boots, the door swung open. Someone walked in wrapped in a coat, scarf, hat . . . and about a quarter inch of snow. While I'd been showering, drying off, and dressing, in maybe 20 minutes time, the clouds had thickened up, the temperature plunged, and the snows came down.

(A propos of completely nothing, at this point, I'd moved from Berkeley to Sacramento a few years previously, and yet, the snow-covered woman who walked in was an acquaintance of mine from Berkeley whom I hadn't seen in at least four years.)

I had a brilliant Geography 1 teacher, whom I keep meaning to write about, who got us excited about stuff like knowing how to forecast weather from observations, because he did, and now I've mostly forgotten the skill for lack of practice. I feel like I should go out into the country for a month and just pay attention. The bay area is actually painfully simple: It will be foggy and clear up, or it won't. If it does, the temperatures will rise; if it doesn't, they won't. It won't rain (much at all, sometimes some spitting) in the summer. In the winter, if it's cloudy it will probably rain, and probably quite a lot. If it's not, it won't. It's hard to see enough incoming weather to really forecast it, and it's often hard to see past the low fog to anything going on in the upper sky. Of course, I could always visit Wunderground, but that misses the point.

I need to get my body out there paying attention again.

1 comment:

Den Whitton said...

About an hour after I filmed this, the temperature dropped 5 degrees and it snowed in the mountains 200km East of here.