An interesting thing has happened over the last 6 years. I no longer get sad on a rainy day. Just the opposite – I am usually grinning from ear to ear – even when my outdoor activities are ruined. The reason is because rain has been so infrequent during the last 6 years. Now, everytime it rains, I see it as time for celebration. The only time I might get a bit depressed by rainy or cloudy weather is in the late Fall or late Winter after 3 or 4 days in a row. Of course, a nice sunny day makes me happy, but 6, 7, or 8 in a row makes me nervous and anxious. I hate to see the lawns turn brown and the farmers/gardeners worry about their crops. It is a strange turn of events, to cheer an all-day rain, but after experiencing a significant period of drought in each of the last 6 years, perceptions are bound to change. Did you know this: If you add up all the missing precipitation (in Wausau) from the last 6 years it totals about 35 inches. That means we are averaging nearly 6 inches below normal every year since 2003. No wonder some wetlands, reservoirs, and wells are going dry. I certainly would not mind above normal precipitation this growing season – a.k.a. a “wet year”. I have been waiting for a wet year to improve the wild blackberry crop – which has been suffering. During the last couple of years I could hardly find enough blackberries for a pie. One drawback to wet weather that I know most people will complain about is bugs, particularly mosquitoes. We have been spoiled with very low numbers of mosquitoes over the last 6 years.
So today I am smiling. My apologies to anyone who had to work the holiday weekend and now has Tuesday and Wednesday off. So far in Wausau we have picked up about .70 inches of rain (through 9:30 am) and there is a possibility of another inch or so tonight. If we do end up with another inch or more tonight, amazingly, we will end up with above normal rainfall during the month of May. Up until today, we had been running about 1.5 inches below normal. Our weather watcher Marianne from Scandinavia noticed this turnaround and reminded me that it happened the same way in April – below normal precipitation for most of the month then a deluge at the end.
Periods of rain will continue into Wednesday morning then dry up during the afternoon. More sunshine on Thursday will warm temps back up into the 70s, making it the best day too get outside this week. The next chance of significant rain will be on Sunday. With the heavy rain today and perhaps more tonight, the snow left on Rib Mountain might melt a little quicker. I drove out there this morning to check it out (couldn’t use the sky cam because of the rain and fog). There are still 2 large patches of snow on the western slopes. If we get an inch of rain tonight, it will do a number on the remaining snow, but I still think the final melt is a few days away. I will definitely be making a trip to the slopes later this week for an up-close inspection.
I have been following the LED lighting story for a couple of years now and you probably remember a blog series I did entitled “A True Revolution in Lighting”, explaining the benefits of using this new lighting technology. I featured one company that was attempting to commercialize standard LED bulbs but failed (Polybrite). They could not produce the bulb at an affordable price, thus they sell (probably very few) bulbs online for $50 a piece. Yikes! Like everything, mass manufacturing and “economies of scale” are generally needed to bring down the price of an innovative or disruptive new technology. With LED lights, there have been many breakthroughs in recent months but this one might be more important: Obducat’s New Lithography System Provides Energy and Environmental Gains. Obducot has developed a fully automated lithography system that turns out LEDs. Perhaps this development will impact LED lighting applications at the bottom line – the most important considerations for consumers. Lighting uses up 10 to 20 percent of the world’s energy. LED lighting could easily cut that percentage in half.
In other news, another development in cloaking – yes cloaking, like in Star Trek cloaking. This time the cloaking was performed by manipulating an optical waveguideinstead of creating a new metamaterial. The waveguide method could cloak bigger objects (although still very tiny) and perform over a broader range of wavelengths.
And now for something completely different. Climatologists and Oceanographers are using some unique methods to keep track of and learn more about ocean currents. Tracking debris has turned up some valuable insights. Have you ever found some odd piece of junk washed up on the beach? If so you might be able to find out how far it has traveled and how long it was in the ocean. Kind-of like finding an unintentional ”message in a bottle”. Each piece of debris tells a story.
Have a fine Tuesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on May 26, 2009