0831: "Weather Radar"

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby arachnophilia » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:03 am UTC

Otto wrote:Similarly, if you give people an MP3 player and put it on random play, then if it plays the same song twice before it plays all the songs (or sometimes if it even plays the same *artist* anywhere close to another song by that artist), then they get the idea that it's biased or non-random. However, if it actually played all songs with equal frequency over as short a term as the person is thinking of, then that wouldn't be random in the slightest. Random numbers only tends to give equal frequencies over long, long, long periods.


i know that my mp3 player isn't truly random -- it generates a random playlist, such that it won't play the same song twice until it's played all songs in the list. but i also know that it's sufficiently random in generating that playlist to make listening enjoyable.

but it's fun to think that, "oh, today my mp3 seems to enjoy this artist" when half the songs it plays in a short duration are all by the same artist. but the one that really entertains me? when it plays a song, followed by the remix, follower by a cover. or when it plays a few songs back-to-back that use the same sample, or a song and the song it samples. or when it plays two completely unrelated songs that happen to transition musically almost perfectly. i mean, i know it's not, but how smart would it have to be to do that on purpose?

i for one, etc.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Uninfinity » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:06 am UTC

Correlation, not causation. Cities form where storms are less likely to appear.
I think it's natural that cities developed in those areas. It's similar-ish to natural selection.

Either that, or the Government is paying Storm from the X-Men to help keep the weather in check...

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby uncivlengr » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:10 am UTC

Uninfinity wrote:Correlation, not causation. Cities form where storms are less likely to appear.
I was going to suggest this as well - in addition to the heat island effect, there's the fact that many cities often develop in geographically significant areas - in a valley, on a hill, along a shoreline, etc.
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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Crosserenti » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:45 am UTC

I have a slight theory...I'm no meteorologist, in fact I'm a math major, with no study of weather, but could it possibly be development? Theoretically, pavement reflects heat better, which can cause a hot weather area around specific location, unless the location has a source of cooling. For instance, New York City, being so close to the ocean gives them a cold front, but, say, Chicago would be warmer because they do not have a large body of water. And, if we theorize more, we could say that winds could be weakened due to taller buildings, causing abnormal weather. Keep in mind my knowledge of weather is quite limited, so I can't say for certain that this could be truly possible, but I can't think of why not using my current knowledge...

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby tojo940 » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:07 am UTC

jakerman999 wrote:
squareroot wrote:Ask them to give you to random numbers between 1 and 10 (with a different phrasing, if you want.) Then there is (read: should be) a one in ten chance they're the same. If not, ask for a third. If they're still different, ask for a fourth. At this point, there should be about a one in two chance that two are the same. And yet, countless people will believe it should be 4/10.

Ask for just one more number; you get a 69% chance (lol it's 69. :-P) that two were the same. So, if no two were, then chances are they really suck at making random numbers. :D


This assumes that the person being asked for random numbers is only giving back whole numbers. Ask this task of me, or one of my peers, and you will receive all sorts of decimal answers the majority of which aren't terminating.

Whenever I'm asked to pick a number between 1 and 10 or 1 and 4 or something, I always answer with things like pi, e, or phi.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby crzftx » Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:47 am UTC

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby lesmith11 » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:38 am UTC

Ghandi 2 wrote:I have never thought or even heard of the thunderstorm thing, why the hell would anybody believe that?


My guess is because kids tend to be TERRIFIED of storms so they stick in your memory more when you're younger.

Just a thought but I don't think it's a bad one...

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby BlitzGirl » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:02 am UTC

gmrple wrote:As a lifeguard I can confirm this phenomenon.

Seconded.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby SuperfluousFluteMusic » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:11 am UTC

See the alt-text? Randall Munroe respects Psychology after all. Now I will respect Randall Munroe. Hello Randall Munroe, I respect you.

Seriously though, I think that is a great thing. Thank you so much. I like this comic more, now.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby kystormchaser » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:15 am UTC

As a meteorologist who works in those offices I knew this day would come. I was wondering when someone would catch on to us.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Odal » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:31 am UTC

I giggle when people complain that an Ipod's shuffle isn't random. That's because it's "shuffle" not "random." When you shuffle a deck of cards it doesn't make the cards random. It sets them up in an order that you don't know the order of. Just the same as Ipod's shuffle.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:35 am UTC

Odal wrote:I giggle when people complain that an Ipod's shuffle isn't random. That's because it's "shuffle" not "random." When you shuffle a deck of cards it doesn't make the cards random. It sets them up in an order that you don't know the order of. Just the same as Ipod's shuffle.


True. Using your example, when you buy a brand new deck of cards, they are in order by number (start with Ace, end with King), and the suit order is usually Spades, Hearts, Clubs, and Diamonds. Shuffle them for the first time, you're likely to still draw the Ace of Spades followed by the Deuce of Spades. It would take a few more shuffles before they're fully mixed up. With the iPod or any other mp3 player, when you set the play mode to "Shuffle", there's still a chance that the next song after the current song playing would be the next song in the library list (since most mp3 players tend to file and list tracks by track number rather than by name or artist), or by the same artist as the previous song.

Back to the comic itself, I can attest to it. When my parents and I lived in Monticello, GA, the land that was once my great-granddad's lied within a "dry zone", since it seemed like hardly any rain fell there. It could rain in the town of Monticello itself, or anywhere north or south of us, but very rarely did it rain right on top of us.
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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby dp2 » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:45 pm UTC

Odal wrote:I giggle when people complain that an Ipod's shuffle isn't random. That's because it's "shuffle" not "random." When you shuffle a deck of cards it doesn't make the cards random. It sets them up in an order that you don't know the order of. Just the same as Ipod's shuffle.

No, that's what I expect shuffle to do. If it did that, there would be no repeats until every song has been played exactly once.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby dp2 » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:45 pm UTC

squall_line wrote:
dp2 wrote:If you have a pool of 1000 songs, you have a better than 50% chance of a repeat once you play 38 songs. See the Birthday Paradox.


My training always used a progressive application of the Pigeonhole Principle to explain the Birthday Problem.

Unfortunately, most of the links and pages that discuss the issue end up getting hopelessly complex for the average reader (and probably too complex for their own good), just like that link did after a while...

Well, that's the best page I've seen. And it has the handy Java app if you want to convince yourself without understanding the math.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby JJS » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:39 pm UTC

My wife works at NOAA, so I sent her the link to this comic with the subject, "Share with your weather buddies". Here is what she got back:

Cute, of course. There actually is some science behind this one. Beam filling is the proper term. I was taught to call it "The Tonganoxie Effect."

The radar beam is wider at distant points than it is at closer points. Thus, the resolution of radar data improves as a storm approaches the location of the radar. Precipitation lines that look threatening at a distance can actually "break up" and look more innocuous as they approach because of the sampling bias. It's easy to see on a single radar image, but modern mosaics can obscure it.

For years and years, instructors at the NWS Training Center in Kansas City, Missouri nicknamed this "The Tonganoxie Effect." Tonganoxie is a town a few miles west of Kansas City, Missouri. The joke, of course, was that something magic happened as a line of thunderstorms passed over Tonganoxie which caused the solid line to break up into smaller cells. The term was in common use at the Cleveland, Ohio weather office when I left in 1990.

Later . . . Jim

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby bmonk » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:12 pm UTC

squareroot wrote:
Otto wrote:"Random" is not a concept human beings are capable of grasping properly. If you ask most people to pick a random number from 1 to 10, and then to do it again, then they'll never give you the same number twice. Meaning that the second number they give wasn't truly "random", was it?


Ask them to give you to random numbers between 1 and 10 (with a different phrasing, if you want.) Then there is (read: should be) a one in ten chance they're the same. If not, ask for a third. If they're still different, ask for a fourth. At this point, there should be about a one in two chance that two are the same. And yet, countless people will believe it should be 4/10.

Ask for just one more number; you get a 69% chance (lol it's 69. :-P) that two were the same. So, if no two were, then chances are they really suck at making random numbers. :D


That's not the only bias: most people will not choose an even number--"not random enough", and the most common choice is 7. (1 is out, as is 5 and 9, so the best choices are 3 and 7...) :lol: :wink:
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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby ConMan » Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:33 am UTC

Lots of people in the thread wrote:random

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I know what people are trying to say (or at least I think I do), in that they are expecting that "shuffle" to act as a simple random sampling either with or without replacement from the list of songs, and instead they're getting something that has a different distribution which may or may not be sufficiently (pseudo)random to match up with our preconceived notions of "random", in particular our expectation that "similar" items will be separated by any "truly random" randomisation process. But as long as there's some non-deterministic input into the algorithm that has an impact on the final result, it's still random even if it plays an entire album in order once every million shuffles.</probability rant>
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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby joplju » Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:04 am UTC

JJS wrote:My wife works at NOAA, so I sent her the link to this comic with the subject, "Share with your weather buddies". Here is what she got back:

Cute, of course. There actually is some science behind this one. Beam filling is the proper term. I was taught to call it "The Tonganoxie Effect."

The radar beam is wider at distant points than it is at closer points. Thus, the resolution of radar data improves as a storm approaches the location of the radar. Precipitation lines that look threatening at a distance can actually "break up" and look more innocuous as they approach because of the sampling bias. It's easy to see on a single radar image, but modern mosaics can obscure it.

For years and years, instructors at the NWS Training Center in Kansas City, Missouri nicknamed this "The Tonganoxie Effect." Tonganoxie is a town a few miles west of Kansas City, Missouri. The joke, of course, was that something magic happened as a line of thunderstorms passed over Tonganoxie which caused the solid line to break up into smaller cells. The term was in common use at the Cleveland, Ohio weather office when I left in 1990.

Later . . . Jim


Hmmm, I hadn't given this any though. Of course, I'm still in college studying meteorology, so the forum members will need to take her knowledge on the subject as worth far more than mine. I think most people have hit the nail on the head with large cities, what we have observed to be the urban heat island effect. Owing to the large amounts of concrete, steel, glass, and asphalt in a large urban area, the region heats up more rapidly, retains more heat, and cools down more slowly. This is an easily observed phenomenon. Next time your local news shows regional temperatures, compare urban and suburban areas with rural temps.

However, there are many different reasons a storm will grow stronger or die out. Geography, lakes, boundaries between airmasses, local pockets of more dry/humid or warm/cool air, small regions of low/high shear... any of these can cause a storm to strengthen or weaken. One must also take into account the lifetime of a storm, which is dependent upon all of the above qualities, as well as the type of system that the storm is in (MCS, airmass storms, tropical, convective, stratiform, linear, etc). As one person mentioned, it would make a decent thesis topic, but would require a lot of observations... and not just at the surface. Radiosondes (weather balloons) are expensive, and, in order to achieve an accurate observation, must be launched relatively simultaneously. Currently, most locations only launch them at 12 and 00 Z (UTC), although some research locations (such as Boulder, CO in the US) launch them more frequently. The sheer logistics of getting a small resolution atmospheric profile is any meteorologist's dream, but the money and manpower just aren't there.

Regarding the storm motion: Systems in the US vary by region, season, and individual storms. A polar or Arctic airmass front can have a southward propagating line of storms in Texas, while the same system moves westward across Mississippi. It all depends. Generally, though, when the cells are linear north-south as they are, they'll move west to east in the continental US.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby StealthBlue » Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:55 am UTC

I blame this phenomenon on black asphalt roads. They absorb light from the sun all day, when there are no clouds, and radiate heat so long as the sun is shining on them. Then a huge storm rolls in and encounters this heated bubble and a slightly more high pressure zone. It splits up and goes aground. Wither or not this is the accurate reason why this happens or not, I have no idea. All I know is that my dad works with airplane GPS's all day long and sometimes would call home to tell us to be prepared for a big storm which wouldn't show.

As for the MP3 thing... I had this one cheap MP3 player from china (bad idea, don't get them from china, I don't think they know the difference between a bit and a byte. 32 gigabit = 4 gigabyte, but they advertised it as a 32 gigabyte *headdesk*) but if I put it on "shuffle all", it would only shuffle through the first 225 of 600+ songs because the randomizer wasn't built to generate numbers any higher than 225. This isn't a bias however, it's a mere limitation on it's capacity for randomizing.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Jenni Nikki » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:06 am UTC

joplju wrote:
JJS wrote:My wife works at NOAA, so I sent her the link to this comic with the subject, "Share with your weather buddies". Here is what she got back:

Cute, of course. There actually is some science behind this one. Beam filling is the proper term. I was taught to call it "The Tonganoxie Effect."

The radar beam is wider at distant points than it is at closer points. Thus, the resolution of radar data improves as a storm approaches the location of the radar. Precipitation lines that look threatening at a distance can actually "break up" and look more innocuous as they approach because of the sampling bias. It's easy to see on a single radar image, but modern mosaics can obscure it.

For years and years, instructors at the NWS Training Center in Kansas City, Missouri nicknamed this "The Tonganoxie Effect." Tonganoxie is a town a few miles west of Kansas City, Missouri. The joke, of course, was that something magic happened as a line of thunderstorms passed over Tonganoxie which caused the solid line to break up into smaller cells. The term was in common use at the Cleveland, Ohio weather office when I left in 1990.

Later . . . Jim


Hmmm, I hadn't given this any though. Of course, I'm still in college studying meteorology, so the forum members will need to take her knowledge on the subject as worth far more than mine. I think most people have hit the nail on the head with large cities, what we have observed to be the urban heat island effect. Owing to the large amounts of concrete, steel, glass, and asphalt in a large urban area, the region heats up more rapidly, retains more heat, and cools down more slowly. This is an easily observed phenomenon. Next time your local news shows regional temperatures, compare urban and suburban areas with rural temps.

However, there are many different reasons a storm will grow stronger or die out. Geography, lakes, boundaries between airmasses, local pockets of more dry/humid or warm/cool air, small regions of low/high shear... any of these can cause a storm to strengthen or weaken. One must also take into account the lifetime of a storm, which is dependent upon all of the above qualities, as well as the type of system that the storm is in (MCS, airmass storms, tropical, convective, stratiform, linear, etc). As one person mentioned, it would make a decent thesis topic, but would require a lot of observations... and not just at the surface. Radiosondes (weather balloons) are expensive, and, in order to achieve an accurate observation, must be launched relatively simultaneously. Currently, most locations only launch them at 12 and 00 Z (UTC), although some research locations (such as Boulder, CO in the US) launch them more frequently. The sheer logistics of getting a small resolution atmospheric profile is any meteorologist's dream, but the money and manpower just aren't there.

Regarding the storm motion: Systems in the US vary by region, season, and individual storms. A polar or Arctic airmass front can have a southward propagating line of storms in Texas, while the same system moves westward across Mississippi. It all depends. Generally, though, when the cells are linear north-south as they are, they'll move west to east in the continental US.


I'm definitely leaning towards the beam filling theory, because I grew up in a small city with no (significant?) heat island effect, and there was still a tendency there for storms to break up just before they hit. Now living some miles south of the same city, still in the viewing area of their radar, storm lines will seem to go straight overhead, but the sky stays blue. I don't tend to pay attention after not being hit though, so I can't confirm if these are the same storms that seem to break up as they near the city.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Eutychus » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:12 am UTC

Is this the right place to ask where #832 has got to? :(
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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Cyantre » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:33 am UTC

Eutychus wrote:Is this the right place to ask where #832 has got to? :(


It no longer says updated Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on the main page. So I guess comics will come a bit more sporadically. It could have something to do with Randall's family situation which prompted the schedule change a few weeks ago.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Blackwolf359 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:58 am UTC

I was working at a camp in Minnesota this summer and this happened several times. I still do not understand this phenomena.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby SuperfluousFluteMusic » Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:27 pm UTC

Bacon is fucking delicious.

dp2 wrote:No, that's what I expect shuffle to do. If it did that, there would be no repeats until every song has been played exactly once.


That would be pretty easy to program. I would have to look up how to do it efficiently, though.


Cyantre wrote:It no longer says updated Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on the main page. So I guess comics will come a bit more sporadically. It could have something to do with Randall's family situation which prompted the schedule change a few weeks ago.


He has important things going on. I don't blame him, especially considering the detail he likes to go into for his comics.

He could do 5 minute comics though. That would be pretty entertaining in a different sense.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Sprocket » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:49 pm UTC

"Ever notice how there aren't as many thunderstorms now as there were when you were a kid? Much like 'The shuffle on my MP3 player has a bias', this is occasionally true but universally believed. Brains are so interesting!"

I wonder about this. I want a link to that paper.
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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby moeburn » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:43 pm UTC

I don't know if anyone ever mentioned this, but there is a real scientific explanation for this phenomenon of "the storms on the weather radar seem to split and go around my city". It happens here in Toronto too:

https://gfycat.com/ZigzagDeafeningKingbird

Here is the explanation I received:

Couple that with a crash course in how weather radar works. Radar beams are available at a variety of different angles, with the lowest and most commonly used being 0.5*. Oftentimes, you can only view one beam height at a time (unless you're using composite imagery, but most websites shy away from that). Naturally, if there's no precip falling at the altitude where the radar beam passes, its not going to "show" any precipitation. This is what we have happening here. Because there is a near surface dry layer, there is virga which is evaporating well before it reaches the ground, and the radar beam. You only start to see the precip as the beam reaches a height above the near surface dry layer and prior to the precip evaporating. Towards the end of the loop, you can see the heavier rates in the core of the band start to overcome the dry air, though I'm not sure it ever did.


I believe the more important explanation is the radar angle. The storm is passing directly over top of the RADAR station, not just the city, and that just so happens to be a sort of "blind spot" for the weather radar.

Next time you see this happening on your weather radar, find a different one. Find the raw government radar images, the ones that are not processed or antialiased or combined with dozens of other radar stations like the big country-sized ones are. And then switch to a radar station just outside your city's limits. Suddenly you'll see the storm didn't dissipate or go around your city at all, but it might look a bit weaker.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby SuicideJunkie » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:58 pm UTC

Uninfinity wrote:Correlation, not causation. Cities form where storms are less likely to appear.
I think it's natural that cities developed in those areas. It's similar-ish to natural selection.

Either that, or the Government is paying Storm from the X-Men to help keep the weather in check...

Perhaps proto-cities actually spawn everywhere at a roughly even rate.
But natural selection kills off the cities in stormy, unpopulated, and other low quality areas.

Sprocket wrote:"Ever notice how there aren't as many thunderstorms now as there were when you were a kid? Much like 'The shuffle on my MP3 player has a bias', this is occasionally true but universally believed. Brains are so interesting!"

I wonder about this. I want a link to that paper.
I have an asteroids-y game I wrote, where the enemy ships choose random velocity changes at random times. This is highly effective in making humans think they are intentionally dodging weapons fire.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Archgeek » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:56 pm UTC

plin25 wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:People say that here in California we don't have any seasons, but that's not true at all! We have four seasons just like everywhere else: Sunny, Hot, Flooding, and On Fire.


Maybe it's because I'm in Northern California, but my version of that joke is,
"Spring, Summer, Indian Summer, Cold Spell"
also, San Francisco Weather goes through all four of those seasons in one day.

Since we're having fun with what's quite the necro, here's how it goes in Oklahoma:
"Winter, Fool's Spring, Second Winter, Almost-Spring, Winter Forgot Its Wallet, Tornado Season, Summer, The Searing, False Fall, Summer II, Cold Snap, Has Anyone Seen Summer's Keys?, and back to Winter."
"That big tube down the side was officially called a "systems tunnel", which is aerospace contractor speak for "big tube down the side."

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Eebster the Great » Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:36 am UTC

The classic seasons for [insert northern latitude place here] are "Almost Winter," "Winter," "Still Winter," and "Construction."

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Mikeski » Sat Apr 27, 2019 4:34 am UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:The classic seasons for [insert northern latitude place here] are "Almost Winter," "Winter," "Still Winter," and "Construction."

We simplify it to "Winter, and Road Construction".

If warm places can get by with two seasons (Rainy and Dry), there's no reason we need all four.

I'm just trying to stay far enough south to avoid the "Winter, and Tuesday" joke.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby rmsgrey » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:25 pm UTC

Far enough North (or South) and the seasons are "Day" and "Night"...

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Eebster the Great » Sun Apr 28, 2019 6:49 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:Far enough North (or South) and the seasons are "Day" and "Night"...

It's more like "just after sunrise" (morning), "just before sunset" (evening), "just after sunset" (dusk), and "just before sunrise" (dawn). You have a sort of year-long "polar day-night cycle" except you never actually get midday or true night, just shades of twilight.

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Re: 0831: "Weather Radar"

Postby Old Bruce » Sun Apr 28, 2019 2:26 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:Far enough North (or South) and the seasons are "Day" and "Night"...

It's more like "just after sunrise" (morning), "just before sunset" (evening), "just after sunset" (dusk), and "just before sunrise" (dawn). You have a sort of year-long "polar day-night cycle" except you never actually get midday or true night, just shades of twilight.

That is my new novel: 365 Shades of Twilight.


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