Saturday, June 30, 2018

Fun Stuff from the Mountain Meteorology Conference

After 2 weeks and 14 time zones, it is great to be home on a spectacularly beautiful final day of June.

Delta took pity on me and gave me a free first class upgrade last night for my trip home from Santa Fe.  It was on a small plane, so I enjoyed my favorite kind of seat — one that is simultaneously an aisle and a window.

Although my side of the plane did not allow for views of any large fires, it was still an interesting ride.  Below is a nice cumulus cloud forming above a smoke plume in the San Juans.

And here's a view looking south at the Trail Mountain fire, the prescribed burn that escaped in the Manti-La Sal National forest and has now burned almost 18,000 acres.

I was in Santa Fe for the American Meteorological Society Conference and some incredible data was presented from western wildfires.  In particular, Neil Lareau, a Utah Alum, and Dave Kingsmill, who we'll call an honorary Utah Alum as he's collaborated frequently with scientists at the U, presented cloud radar data collected by an aircraft that penetrated a fire-fueled updraft of an incredible 130 miles per hour.  That's roughly equivalent to what you might find in a supercell thunderstorm. 

Jessica Lundquist of the University of Washington gave a provocatively titled talk entitled "Has Our Ability to Model Mountain Rain and Snow Exceeded the Skill of Our Observational Networks."  Many readers of this blog would have found it interesting.  Specifically, she was examining seasonal precipitation, rather than individual weather events.  The sad truth is below.  I view conclusions like this as an indication that we need a breakthrough in observing capabilities to push us to new heights.  Engineers out there get to work!

The meeting was very special for me as I received the Named Session Award from the Mountain Meteorology Committee based on contributions to the mountain meteorology community.

It is a major understatement to say that the award meant a lot.  The mountain meteorology community has given and taught me so much.  I can only hope to give back a fraction.  Thank you to all. 

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