Why Isn’t the U.S. Better at Predicting Extreme Weather?


At 11 o’clock on the night of Sept. 29, the National Hurricane Center in Miami posted an updated prediction for Hurricane Matthew. Using the latest data from a reconnaissance aircraft, the center’s computerized models led meteorologists there to conclude, in a post on the center’s website, that “only a slight strengthening is forecast during the next 12 to 24 hours.” Their prediction proved to be astonishingly amiss: The following day, Matthew exploded from a Category 1 into a Category 5 hurricane, with winds gusting to 160 miles per hour, strong enough to flatten even the sturdiest homes.

This was hardly the first time that United States government forecasters significantly underestimated a storm’s potential. Last year, 24 hours before Patricia reached Mexico’s Pacific Coast, it unexpectedly mushroomed from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane, its winds topping 215 miles per hour. Luckily, Patricia — officially the strongest hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere — made landfall over a sparsely populated region. Matthew behaved similarly, its intensification also unforeseen and sudden, occurring just two days before it overwhelmed Haiti. Residents there had little time to flee, and the death toll exceeded 1,000. (More than 30 died in the United States.) The failure to make timely, accurate predictions about these storms would have had far deadlier consequences had they made landfall near a major metropolitan area. In South Florida, for example — where the initial forecasts for a storm of modest size would not have prompted hurricane-weary residents to evacuate — Matthew’s rapid increase in power could have pinned down more than six million people in the region.

It’s a situation that deeply troubles Cliff Mass, a meteorologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. As he does after every major weather event, Mass deconstructed the bungled predictions for Matthew and Patricia on his popular website, “Cliff Mass Weather Blog,” which he started in 2008. He called Patricia a “poster child, perhaps the worst case in a while, of a major problem for meteorologists,” and in response to Matthew he posted a graph that showed how the National Hurricane Center’s computer-forecasting model at one point was off by more than 325 nautical miles in predicting the storm’s westward course.

Mass, who is 64, has become the most widely recognized critic of weather forecasting in the United States — and specifically the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages the National Weather Service and its underling agencies, including the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, where the nation’s weather models are run. Mass argues that these models are significantly flawed in comparison with commercial and European alternatives. American forecasting also does poorly at data assimilation, the process of integrating information about atmospheric conditions into modeling programs; in the meantime, a lack of available computing power precludes the use of more advanced systems already operating at places like the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, based in Reading, England. And there are persistent management challenges, perhaps best represented by the legions of NOAA scientists whose innovations remain stranded in research labs and out of the hands of the National Weather Service operational forecasters who make the day-to-day predictions in 122 regional offices around the country.





I’ll write a few thoughts here before I forget them.

First, Mr. Behar doesn’t understand the NWS at a very fundamental level. The NWS doesn’t issue “severe thunderstorm alerts” but does issue severe thunderstorm warnings. There is only one NWS union not “unions.” That is just a couple of glaring points.

Second, Mr. Behar doesn’t know meteorology. The strong intensification of hurricanes is still not well understood; that’s the state of the science. There are no models, European or otherwise, that capture that well. Also in the absence of large scale forcing, no model can forecast where “pop-up” thunderstorms will occur 1-2 hours in advance. Finally, the European model misses plenty of forecasts. It does do better than the American GFS overall, but it’s not the perfect solution.

I must say this article seems like a hit job. It is easy to cherry-pick missed forecasts. Dr. Mass sounds especially provocative, standing in front of a class of college freshman and bashing the NWS.

There are a few good points. Big increases in computing power would probably pay for itself in Decision Support Services (DSS is the new-ish mantra in the NWS, how do we (I mean they!) help folks make better decisions based on weather impacts). From chaos theory, ensemble forecasts make a lot of sense and offer a new level of accuracy. The NWS is using ensembles, more at the synoptic level, but not down to the local level, yet.

Big computers and modeling to the fine scale cost money: federal money assigned by Congress. We know what that means with a dysfunctional legislative branch, not one red cent from this Congress for many years. In fact, the NWS is working under funding cuts and doing the best they can.

There are more details. But I think this kind of provocative journalism must be taken with a grain of salt.

All the Best,

Criticism of the News Media Takes On a More Sinister Tone


It sure does get exhausting working for the global corporate media conspiracy.

The hours are horrible (my kingdom for a weekend off). You never know what the puppet masters are going to order up next. (I wish that guy from Mexico, What’s-His-Face Slim, would get off my back.) And there’s no extra combat pay when, at this point, there clearly should be.

I probably shouldn’t joke (and yes, Twitter, that’s what I’m doing). The anger being directed at the news media has become dangerous enough that some news organizations are providing security for staff members covering Trump rallies. “Someone’s going to get hurt” has become a common refrain in American newsrooms.

On Thursday, Jim Acosta of CNN held up a sign left in the press section of Donald J. Trump’s rally in West Palm Beach that featured a swastika next to the word “Media.” Later, in Cincinnati, the crowd met reporters with sustained boos, curses and chants of, “Tell the truth, tell the truth.”

It was as tense as anyone had seen it since the candidacy of George Wallace, and yet it was almost understandable given what Mr. Trump had been telling them: The news media was trying to “poison the minds” of voters with “lies, lies, lies.” All of it, he said, is part of a “conspiracy against you, the American people” that also includes “global financial interests.”

The idea that the press is part of some grand conspiracy against the people, presented in such incendiary terms, goes well beyond the longstanding Republican complaints about liberal bias. You’d more expect to hear it from Lenin or the pages of the anti-Semitic publication American Free Press than from the standard-bearer of the Republican Party.

But it is resonating with a large portion of the American electorate. There are many reasons, some of which should cause the news media to make good on its promises to examine its own disconnect from the cross section of Americans whose support for Mr. Trump it never saw coming.

We can debate whether the “corporate” news media is as left-leaning as critics claim. The answer, as I see it, is more than they’ll admit to themselves and less than conservatives claim.

But there is little question that it is out of step with Mr. Trump’s die-hards on the issues upon which Mr. Trump won them over, especially immigration and trade. And this tracks across the ideological divide in the mainstream media.

For all their many differences, the right-leaning editorial board of The Wall Street Journal and the left-leaning editorial boards of The New York Times and The Washington Post share the beliefs that global free trade is generally beneficial and that the United States needs to create ways to legalize the undocumented immigrant work force.

The newsrooms of The Times, The Journal and The Post operate independently from their editorial pages. But their coverage certainly does not start from the premise that an immigration overhaul would unduly reward the original sin of illegal border crossing or that free trade deals threaten our national sovereignty.

Then there are big attitudinal differences that come from the fact that the biggest American newsrooms are in major cities.

“One of the reasons the national media initially missed the rise of Trump was because so much of it is based on the coasts,” said Joanne Lipman, editor in chief of the USA Today Network, which Gannett formed in December, in part, to combine the sensibilities of the 110 newspapers it owns throughout red-state and blue-state America.

There also tends to be a shared sense of noble mission across the news media that can preclude journalists from questioning their own potential biases.

“The people who run American journalism, and who staff the newsrooms, think of themselves as sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and, culturally speaking, on the right side of history,” Rod Dreher, a senior editor at The American Conservative, told me. “They don’t know what they don’t know and they don’t care to know it.”

~~~  READ MORE  ~~~

Keep OURay Alpine Wild – Final BOCC Hearing

Dear Keep OURay Alpine Wild Supporter,

Your attendance is important! Tomorrow, Monday, October 17 at 1:30 the Ouray Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will make their final decision for building regulations on patented mining claims in the high alpine zone. The BOCC hearing will be held in the 4H Center in Ridgway. No public comments will be heard.

We’re hopeful that the high alpine zone will finally be protected. The draft building code includes the 35 acre parcel size the Ouray community asked be the minimum. A strong show of support at this BOCC meeting is important to show the commissioners that the community supports their efforts.

You can read the proposed building regulations here: http://ouraycountyco.gov/DocumentCenter/Index/467 You’ll see two versions at the bottom of the list for the Section 24 revision: one that includes the 35 acre minimum and one that does not. It is our understanding that they will be voting on the version that includes the 35 acre minimum. And if we pack the room we can make sure that the 35 acre version is the one that they adopt.


WHEN: October 17, 1:30PM
WHERE: 4H Center, Ridgway, CO

Hope to see you at the BOCC meeting tomorrow.


Roze Evans for Keep OURay Alpine Wild

Hunter’s Supermoon Takes Center Stage In The October Night Sky ~ TONIGHT!!


A full moon rises behind Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in September in New York City.
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

This weekend, you might want to take a moment to look up at what promises to be a spectacular supermoon.

Added bonus: It’s also a hunter’s moon. “That’s because in other months, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day, while the October moon rises just 30 minutes later,” National Geographic explains. “That offers more light overall during a 24-hour day, which came in handy for traditional hunters.”

Viewing will be at its best on Sunday, when the moon is both full and “at its closest point to our planet as it orbits Earth,” according to NASA. National Geographic advises that the best time to see it is as it rises on Sunday evening.

NASA says the term supermoon simply means a “full moon that is closer to Earth than average.” It explains why the moon is sometimes closer to Earth in this handy video:

“Since the moon’s orbit is elliptical, one side (perigee) is about 30,000 miles closer to Earth than the other (apogee),” NASA says. “The world syzygy, in addition to being useful in word games, is the scientific name for when the Earth, sun and moon line up as the moon orbits Earth. When perigee-syzygy of the Earth-moon-sun system occurs and the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, we get a perigee moon or more commonly, a supermoon.”

At its closest point this weekend, the full moon will be 222,365 miles from Earth — on average, it’s 238,855 miles away, according to National Geographic. It will also “appear 16 percent larger than average and nearly 30 percent larger than the year’s smallest full moon.”

This kicks off three straight months of supermoons — you can also catch them on Nov. 14 and Dec. 14.

The November moon is set to be a real show-stopper: According to NASA, it is “not only the closest full moon of 2016 but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century.” And it won’t be this close to Earth again until 2034.

~~~ WATCH  ~~~

Here’s the SNL sketch that finally went too far for Donald Trump ~ The Washington Post

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~~~  WATCH  ~~~

Donald Trump has generally had a pretty good sense of humor about how “Saturday Night Live” has portrayed him — even when it has been hugely unflattering. He didn’t even have much to say when SNL called his supporters racist multiple times on the same show, for example.

But no more. After this weekend’s show, SNL is now part of the media conspiracy trying to rig this election, according to Trump.

So what happened?

During SNL’s cold open sketch about the presidential town hall debate, Alec Baldwin-as-Trump is asked about whether he likes kids and says, “I love the kids, okay? I love them so much I marry them.”

[VIDEO: The many faces behind SNL’s Donald Trump]

After it’s pointed out that Trump has said Bill Clinton’s accusers should be believed, Baldwin-as-Trump says of his own accusers: “They need to shut the hell up.”

And after stalking Clinton repeatedly during last week’s town hall debate — something Trump denies he actually did — Baldwin-as-Trump is asked by a black man whether he can be a “devoted president to all the people.” He responds by calling the man “Denzel” and launches into an answer about violence in the inner cities.

[Watch SNL’s full-on Beyoncé parody, featuring the women in Trump’s life]

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Then he uses it as a segue to call for putting Hillary Clinton in jail: “She’s committed so many crimes, she’s basically a black.”

In truth, it’s not clear what about this week was worse than before.

Jonathan Wright Minya Konka Tibet 1980


Jonathan Wright, National Geographic cameraman, Buddhist and young father
known for his infectious laugh and kindness. Killed in the avalanche on Minya Konka October 13, 1980 Tibet. His three rope mates, Kim Schmitz, Yvon Chouinard, and Rick Ridgeway survived. He said just days before, “if this trip were over tomorrow, I have been fulfilled”.

Edgar Boyles



Following account from Jack Turner’s ‘Teewinot’


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Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature


Bob Dylan performing at the Hollywood Palladium in 2012. Credit Christopher Polk/Getty Images

LONDON — The singer and songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” in the words of the Swedish Academy.

He is the first American to win since the novelist Toni Morrison, in 1993. The announcement, in Stockholm, came as something of a surprise. Although Mr. Dylan, 75, has been mentioned often as having an outside shot at the prize, his work does not fit into the literary canons of novels, poetry and short stories that the prize has traditionally recognized.

“Mr. Dylan’s work remains utterly lacking in conventionality, moral sleight of hand, pop pabulum or sops to his audience,” the former Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman wrote in a 2013 Op-Ed essay in The New York Times arguing for Mr. Dylan to get the award. “His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless; and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence.”

Mr. Dylan was born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minn., and grew up in Hibbing. He played in bands as a teenager, influenced by the folk musician Woody Guthrie, the authors of the Beat Generation and modernist poets.

He moved to New York in 1961 and began to perform in clubs and cafes in Greenwich Village. The following year, he signed a contract with the record producer John Hammond for his debut album, “Bob Dylan” (1962). His many other albums, which the Swedish Academy described as having “a tremendous impact on popular music,” include “Bringing It All Back Home” and “Highway 61 Revisited” (1965), “Blonde On Blonde” (1966) and “Blood on the Tracks” (1975), “Oh Mercy” (1989), “Time Out Of Mind” (1997) and “Modern Times” (2006).

“Dylan has recorded a large number of albums revolving around topics like the social conditions of man, religion, politics and love,” the Swedish Academy said in a biographical note accompanying the announcement. “The lyrics have continuously been published in new editions, under the title ‘Lyrics.’ As an artist, he is strikingly versatile; he has been active as painter, actor and scriptwriter.”

The academy added: “Since the late 1980s, Bob Dylan has toured persistently, an undertaking called the ‘Never-Ending Tour.’ Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound, and he is the object of a steady stream of secondary literature.”

Mr. Dylan, whose original name is Robert Allen Zimmerman, joins a number of American Jews who have been awarded the prize. Unlike Mr. Dylan, they were born abroad: Saul Bellow, born in Canada, won in 1976; Isaac Bashevis Singer, who was born in Poland and wrote in Yiddish, won in 1978; Joseph Brodsky, born in the Soviet Union, won in 1987. The American-born novelist Philip Roth has been frequently mentioned as a possible recipient.

The Nobel, one of the world’s most prestigious and financially generous awards, comes with a prize of 8 million Swedish kronor, or just over $900,000. The literature prize is given for a lifetime of writing rather than for a single work.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~


The academy on Thursday honored Bob Dylan for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” He is the first American to win the prize in more than two decades. 

Lynn Neary NPR


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Bob Dylan performs in Chicago in 1978. He is the first American to claim the Nobel Prize in Literature since Toni Morrison won in 1993.
Paul Natkin/Getty Images


Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. In doing so, the prolific musician became the first American to win the prize in more than two decades. Not since novelist Toni Morrison won in 1993 has an American claimed the prize.

Dylan won the prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” according to the citation by the Swedish Academy, the committee that annually decides the recipient of the Nobel Prize. The academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, announced the news Thursday.

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 6.52.30 AM.png

The win comes as something of a shock. As usual, the Swedish Academy did not announce a shortlist of nominees, leaving the betting markets to their best guesses. And while Dylan has enjoyed perennial favor as an outside shot for the award, few expected that the musician would be the first to break the Americans’ long dry spell — not least because he made his career foremost on the stage, not the printed page.

Yet few would argue Dylan has been anything but influential, both in the U.S. and beyond its borders. The prolific singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has produced dozens of albums, including The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited and Blood on the Tracks. His track “Like a Rolling Stone” has taken on mythic standing in the decades since its release; many, including Dylan himself, have pointed to it as emblematic of a sea change in American music.

“Tin Pan Alley is gone,” Dylan proclaimed in 1985, referring the dominant conventions established by music publishers of the early 20th century. “I put an end to it. People can record their own songs now.”

Dylan, who was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941, “has the status of an icon,” the Swedish Academy wrote in a biographical note. “His influence on contemporary music is profound, and he is the object of a steady stream of secondary literature.”

In an interview following the announcement, Danius elaborated on the Swedish Academy’s decision: “He is a great poet in the English-speaking tradition, and he is a wonderful sampler — a very original sampler,” Danius explained. “For 54 years now he has been at it and reinventing himself, constantly creating a new identity.”

And for that, he has been duly rewarded by critical community.

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded since 1901 to writers who have produced “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” In that time, 109 prizes have been distributed to 113 writers. This year, the prize carries with it a purse of approximately $900,000 and, as usual, inclusion on literature’s most illustrious list — the pantheon of Nobel winners.

The 75-year-old artist will receive his award in Stockholm, Sweden, on Dec. 10.


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God is a colossal joker, isn’t She?

We went to bed last night having learned that the Man Who Will Not Go Away was, according to the Times, no mere purveyor of “locker-room talk”; no, he has been, in fact, true to his own boasts, a man of vile action. The Times report was the latest detail, the latest brushstroke, in the ever-darkening portrait of an American grotesque.

Then came the news, early this morning, that Bob Dylan, one of the best among us, a glory of the country and of the language, had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ring them bells! What an astonishing and unambiguously wonderful thing! There are novelists who still should win (yes, Mr. Roth, that list begins with you), and there are many others who should have won (Tolstoy, Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Nabokov, Auden, Levi, Achebe, Borges, Baldwin . . . where to stop?), but, for all the foibles of the prize and its selection committee, can we just bask for a little while in this one? The wheel turns and sometimes it stops right on the nose.

And please: let’s not torture ourselves with any gyrations about genre and the holy notion of literature to justify the choice of Dylan; there’s no need to remind anyone that, oh, yes, he has also written books, proper ones (the wild and elusive “Tarantula,” the superb memoir “Chronicles: Volume One”). The songs—an immense and still-evolving collected work—are the thing, and Dylan’s lexicon, his primary influence, is the history of song, from the Greeks to the psalmists, from the Elizabethans to the varied traditions of the United States and beyond: the blues; hillbilly music; the American Songbook of Berlin, Gershwin, and Porter; folk songs; early rock and roll. Over time, Dylan has been a spiritual seeker—and his well-known excursions into various religious traditions, from evangelical Christianity to Chabad, are in his work as well—but his foundation is song, lyric combined with music, and the Nobel committee was right to discount the objections to that tradition as literature. Sappho and Homer would approve.

To keep dull explanation at bay and to maintain the distance of mystery, Dylan has spent six decades giving interviews that often deflect more than they explain—it’s part of the allure, the fun of Dylan fandom to follow this stuff—but there have been many other times when he has spoken for himself in the clearest way possible. He did so last year when accepting an award from MusiCares, a charity that helps musicians in need:

These songs of mine, they’re like mystery stories, the kind that Shakespeare saw when he was growing up. I think you could trace what I do back that far. They were on the fringes then, and I think they’re on the fringes now. And they sound like they’ve been on the hard ground.

The first record I ever purchased was a compilation called “The Best of ’66.” I must have bought it for “Help!” and “Cloudy,” but the song that stuck was “I Want You”:

The guilty undertaker sighs
The lonesome organ grinder cries
The silver saxophones say I should refuse you
The cracked bells and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn
But it’s not that way
I wasn’t born to lose you . . .
I want you, I want you . . .


How those lyrics and the Nashville-inflected music of that record—“that wild mercury sound,” Dylan called the recordings, on “Blonde on Blonde”—must have struck a seven-year-old is something that I would rather not contemplate. Who can remember? All I can tell you is that song was all I had to hear and that I was lost, and remain happily lost, in Dylan’s musical and lyrical world. It gave me most of everything: a connection to something magical and mysterious and human, connections to countless other artists. Somewhere along the way, if you’re very young and lucky, something, or someone, maybe an artist, points you in some direction, gives you a hint of where things are to be found and seen and listened to. Dylan’s records led me to so many other things of value: the Modernists and the Beats, the early music he incorporated into his own, a general sense of freedom and possibility. It has been that way for millions of others, and that’s part of what the Nobel honors.