Tuesday/ tornado!

Big, destructive tornadoes are a rare sight in South Africa, but one touched down near the town of New Hanover in KwaZulu-Natal province on Tuesday at 4 pm local time.

No fatalities have been reported so far, but some 30 houses and an electrical substation were damaged.

Tornado spotted near New Hanover in KwaZulu-Natal. This is some 40 miles from the port city of Durban, as the crow flies. The outlines of the Mersey electrical substation is visible in the picture. I could not find a report of its strength, but it could have been F-1 (73-112 mph winds). [Picture Credit: The still frame is from a clip posted on Twitter @StormReportSA1]

Wednesday/ still no rain

Wednesday marked the 12th day with no rain here in the Pacific Northwest, unusual for this time of year. There is a stubborn stationary high pressure system to the north, that keeps the rain away.

Picture & text from NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle on Twitter): Moonrise over Lake Washington, last light on Mount Rainier and Kelvin-Helmholtz wave clouds over Seattle at sunset late this afternoon. Sunset is now at 4.43 pm.

Monday/ more rain

More steady rain fell today. I see Seattle-Tacoma airport had measured 2.57 in. for the period from last Wednesday through this Sunday night.

We usually get a little less than the airport here in the city, so let’s say the city has gotten 2 inches or so.  (I really should get a rain gauge!). There is sunny weather on the way, but we may have to wait until Wednesday to get a lot of it.

A little sunbreak from late Saturday afternoon, here by my house. It’s great to see the sun come out for a bit when there has only been clouds and rain all day. The red leaves are from my Japanese maple tree (Acer palmatum).

Tuesday/ the euagarics are here

The gilled mushrooms (fancy name: euagarics) that usually pop out of the ground this time of year, have appeared again in my backyard.

The ones I have gotten so far, are not as red, nor as big, as years before. It could be because the soil has dried out these last two weeks. (That is about to change, though. The weatherman says we will get up to 2 inches of rain the next few days).

Gilled mushrooms are called euagarics by fungus aficionados. I believe these are fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria), even though they are smaller and not quite as big and red as ones I had last year.

Sunday/ fall colors start to appear

It’s autumn – fall, as we say in the US – and the leaves are starting to change color. It was a nice sunny day (64° F/ 18° C), but the daylight shortens by 3 minutes every day now.

The blue leadwood (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) on my back porch still has some of its delicate flowers, and the green leaves have now turned red.

Saturday/ thunder and lightning

There was a big storm with thunder and spectacular lightning, that moved over the city on Saturday night. Some flights to Seattle-Tacoma airport had to be diverted to Vancouver.

These are iPhone pictures that I took from my friends’ house, of the city skyline, looking westward to Puget Sound.

A compound lightning bolt behind the US Bank Center (pyramid top) building in the city skyline. On the far left is the Columbia Center (the city’s tallest) and to the right of the lightning bolt, the Rainier Square Tower building that is still under construction.
Here’s a longer cloud-to-cloud bolt that streaked across the skyline.
On the left, a lightning bolt in the distance. On the right is the exact same scene (some time later), lit up as bright as broad daylight, with the overhead lightning flashes.

Monday/ the end of summer

The unofficial end of summer in the United States is here: Labor Day.

Hurricane Dorian was wreaking havoc on The Bahamas on Sunday & Monday.
It really does not look as if it will make landfall on the Florida panhandle, though.

New image on Tue 9/3 show the destruction in the Abaco Islands, located in the northern Bahamas. [Source: New York Times, obtained from Terran Knowles/Our News Bahamas]

Thursday/ Dorian and its ‘cone of uncertainty’

We are in the peak of the hurricane season here in the States (mid August through end of October), and hurricane Dorian is projected to reach Florida on Monday.

We are seeing the familiar ‘cone of uncertainty’ graphic on TV screens, but research by Hurakan, a University of Miami team, revealed that many people do not understand these maps.
Some 40% of people do not feel threatened if they live just outside the cone. (Actually, the path of the hurricane is inside the cone only 60-70% of the time).
Some people think the cone shows the hurricane ‘gets bigger’ over time. (No. The cone is bigger because the more days into the future, the more uncertain the projections of the path of the hurricane become).
People who are inside the cone, but far from the center, tend to prepare less than those closer to the central line. (As pointed out earlier, the path of the hurricane can be anywhere inside the cone, or even outside of it).

Hurricane Dorian’s projected path (from NOAA’s website). Floridians would do well to understand that the hurricane can make landfall anywhere on the east coast of the panhandle and that heavy rain, storm surges, flooding, wind and other hazards may affect areas outside of the cone (as noted in the black box at the top).

Tuesday/ the last of summer

We will get to 88°F (31°C) here in the city tomorrow, possibly the last hot weather, in what has really been a mild summer.
The days are getting shorter and our sun sits lower in the sky, every day now.

A bee making the best of what’s still out there, on a ‘black and bloom’ anise or Brazilian Sage (Salvia guaranitica) that I found in Seattle’s University District. The sage flowers nearly continuously from spring until winter.

Friday/ no heat wave here

We are spared the heat wave that is gripping the Midwest and Northeast of the country.
The Seattle area may see 86°F/ 30°C by Sunday, but that is mild compared to the sizzling temperatures forecast for St. Louis, Washington DC and Boston.

The forecast for Saturday’s heat-indexed temperatures from Accuweather. Conversion: 95°F is 35°C | 100°F is 38°C | 105°F is 41°C | 110°F is 43°C.
The scene tonight at Volunteer Park at 8 pm or so. A smattering of people are listening to a violinist from South India, performing on the stage. Classical music barbarian that I am, I could not really appreciate the music, and so I left after a while.

Sunday/ jumped on a bike

I went bicycling with my friends on today, and tried out an electric-assist bicycle for the first time.

The bicycle has three gears, and performed very well. As far as I could tell, the electric assist from the battery is always-on (so no way to turn it off).
On even grades, the electric assist feels a little like cheating! – but it does come in very handy on long uphill climbs.

I’m ready! I found this bike a few blocks away from my friends’ house, with the help of Uber’s app, scanned its QR code with my phone, unlocked it, and it was ready to go. JUMP is Uber’s bike-share service that competes with Lime, the other bike rental player in Seattle.
Here’s Lake Washington, during a quick stop in Seward Park. It was a beautiful day (75°F/ 24°C) with sun and puffy white clouds.

Friday/ showers & camellia flowers

We’re finally getting some rain again here in the city (and 58 °F/ 14 °C).
Here’s a spectacular camellia flower that I found a few blocks from my house. I have a camellia shrub in my front yard as well, but its flowers are not quite as big these!

Monday/ here’s April

Well, March is behind us. We had only 36% of the normal month of March rainfall, here in the Seattle area: 1.37 in. vs the average of 3.72 in.

Cloud cover but still no rain. Here’s a late afternoon view looking into the sunset, from where I’m standing at 14th Ave and John. Those are the Olympic Mountains, on the Olympic Peninsula, behind the Space Needle.

Wednesday/ getting warmer

We finally have some warmer weather on the way, and the weatherman says we should get to 65°F /18°C by Monday.

These little snow crocuses (Crocus chrysanthus) are seen around my neighborhood this time of year. Only 3 to 6 inches tall, they can pop up even when there is still snow on the ground, and are native to the Balkans and Turkey.

Monday/ blue skies .. and cold

We had completely blue skies here in Seattle on Sunday and Monday. A superdry air mass is just sitting over the area.
With no cloud blanket, it gets really cold at night. A record low of 16° F (−9°C) for Mar 4 was measured in Olympia this morning.

We had LOTS of snow on the ground in the city in February, but the snowpacks in the mountains are actually still lagging below their normal levels (100% would be where it usually is this time of year). [Graphic: Morgan Palmer and KIRO7 news].

Sunday/ blue skies at the Waterfront

Here is Table Mountain, basking under blue skies on a beautiful summer day, seen from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town.

The submarine on display at the V&A Waterfront (as part of Armed Forces Day 2019), is the SAS Manthatisi. She was built in Kiel, Germany, commissioned in 2005, and is named after the female warrior chief of the Batlokwa tribe. Her home port is the naval base in Simon’s Town.

Lucky Friday

Cape Town highs today: 29 °C/ 84 °F and partly sunny. The days are still long: 13 h 15 mins. [Graphic from ‘Die Burger’].
A peek into my refrigerator here in my AirBnB apartment. The canned fish (Saldanha Pilchards) are from the chilly waters of South Africa’s west coast | Castle lager now has a non-alcoholic version | another favorite are the Windhoek Lights (2%), brewed in the German tradition in Namibia | the Crunchie bar has a crisp honeycomb center covered with chocolate | Ceres makes the world’s best fruit juice blends (this one very romantically named ‘Whispers of Summer’) | Woolworths (‘Woolies’) is the place to go for fine foods and yogurt | The Lindt rabbit comes from Switzerland, of course. I had to get it because the dark chocolate ones are hard to come by in the United States!

The weather was much cooler today.
There were no power outages, and tonight a lucky South African may win the largest local lottery jackpot ever: R 210 million/ US $14 m*.

I have beer in my fridge, and some of my favorite South African snackies, so life is good.

*A fraction of the obscene amounts offered in United States lotteries – but drawing 5% each year of US$ 14 m comes to $700,000. Plenty to live a lavish life, anywhere in the world.

Thursday/ it was a scorcher

It was a scorcher here today in the northern suburbs of Cape Town.
My little rental car’s dashboard gauge hit 39.5°C/ 103°F at one point!

There is no water supply crisis in Cape Town the way there was just a year ago (dam levels at 57% vs 25% a year ago). Even so: I try to use water sparingly. As someone said: the best time to save money, electricity, water, is when you still have plenty.

P.S. Check out the cool safari animals that I found today on Eversdal Road in Durbanville. They advertise artificial turf. I think the rhinoceros will make quite a statement, if I were to install one in my front yard in Seattle!

Saturday/ snowed in

15 cm = 6 inches.
Whoah .. lots of white when I opened my front door this morning! I can still make out the walkway to my front door, though .. so I know where to shovel the snow away.
Here’s an American robin (Turdus migratorius) with its striking orange breast. I found a whole bunch of them, feasting on the red berries on a bush by the sidewalk, here on 15th Ave. These robins are often among the first songbirds singing as dawn rises (or hours before), and last as evening sets in.

Well, we are at 6 inches here in the city, says my unofficial snow meter (the railing alongside the deck at the back of the house).

It is great to be in a warm and cosy house, and to be able to just watch the local TV station’s coverage of the conditions outside, and of the streets. I did venture out on foot mid-morning, to take the obligatory few pictures of the snowy street corners in my neighborhood.