Sunday, July 30, 2017

Everybody Talks About The Weather

...but nobody does anything about it.

But some people do one helluva job documenting it.

Sometimes, you want to slow something down to understand it.
With weather, you want to do just the opposite.
Proof of that is seen in some magnificent videos on Vimeo and YouTube by Mike Olbinski.
He's a stormchaser who lives in AZ, and shot it from Texas to Montana across the Great Plains for three months this spring.

So far, I've watched Pulse, Vorticity , and his newest, the truly breathtaking Pursuit:

If I were in AMPAS, that last would get an Oscar short film nomination; it's incredible.

They're fascinating to watch, whether you see it as the finger of God, or the incredibly complex workings of the weather machine as a cog in our tiny corner of an infinite universe.
They are almost (if not quite, for purists), a substitute for church on Sunday.

The technical skills and behind-the-scenes mechanics would be no less fascinating, as he had to find vantage points where one could see the storms coming and going for miles (hence the plains state preponderance) while simultaneously avoiding getting blown away, lightning-struck, or sucked up in documenting the majesty and raw power of something as otherwise mundane as a springtime rainstorm.

One summer night, watching the border for crossings from a mountaintop roost one midnight, I got to see a thunderstorm several miles away through NVGs. You and I are used to seeing the lightning every several seconds, when it strikes. I'm here to tell you that the time-lapse view in these videos is how it looks for real, in real time, when you can see the machinegun staccato of lightning going on inside a storm every second, when seen with thousands of times your eyes' normal light sensitivity. But Olbinski's videos, mostly in color and with appropriate soundtrack, are the virtuoso exposition of the concept, and much better than a grainy green goggle-view.

Watching these workings of varied temperatures of warm and cold air interact should be a must-view for meteorologists and students of same, aircraft pilots, and anybody in the vast open spaces featured in them and living under the whims of the winds.

I'd open classes and lectures with these videos; they're that good.

They're better on Vimeo than YouTube, but either way, choose max res, and go fullscreen.
I may contact this guy and throw him a bone by buying some of his work on archival media. If I were a gazillionaire, I'd pay him to do it full-time forever, because he's making true art, and he excels at it. The Weather Channel or NatGeo should have long since put this guy on a long-term contract, if they had a lick of sense. He's also got a lot more than the three I've mentioned, so this is the guy's life for several months every spring, going back years.

And a h/t to the Feral Irishman for leading me to this beautiful internet black hole in the first place.


Alien said...

It's not about the majesty of thunderstorms, but George Stewart's book Storm (Random House, 1941) is interesting fictional account about a strong Pacific storm, from its beginning as a cluster of clouds over the ocean to its finality as rain showers over the midwest, and the effects on people from a strong storm. Interesting tale. The Senior, and Junior, meteorologists, tracking the storm play substantial roles.

According to Wikipedia, the book helped lead the naming of tropical storms and hurricanes.

UPDATE: I didn't expect Amazon to have it.

Anonymous said...

your comment about 'substitute for church' is spot on

we lived in Aurora IL, edge of the plains, and long rides out west were food for the soul - the weather there in the summer was humbling ..... seeing this stuff over endless vistas of corn, beans, soy and distant farm houses


Anonymous said...

I had a college teacher who previously worked for the Navy (as a civilian) working on their weather modelling system. When he inherited it (as a dozen or so cardboard boxes of key-punch cards) it actually DID work, in that it would provide an accurate 24 hour forecast. Only problem is it ran for 72 hours, so by the time it finished it told you what the weather was two days ago. It's amazing just how complex weather is.

Mark D

Anonymous said...

Sir: Reading your website during a blessed short rainstorm and appreciate the links
to this journal of the weather theater we witness here. The wonders we are privy to here on the plains are simply an addiction which is not of a describable nature to outsiders and any attempt to do so ends up being akin to speaking fluent Swahili.
Thanks much........soapweed