BEFORE & AFTER Atmospheric rivers impact

“Before” satellite image – 3 weeks before the rains came

After at least nine atmospheric rivers in a little more than three weeks dumped more than 30 trillion gallons of water on California, the state’s landscape of deep valleys, tall mountains and rugged coastlines has been visibly altered. Those changes, which extend well out into the Pacific Ocean, can be vividly seen from space now that the storm clouds have cleared.

Satellite imagery from before and after the atmospheric rivers, which are narrow bands of extreme moisture that produce heavy rain and snow, tell the story of a state that has seen devastating flood damage, rising reservoirs, and billions of gallons of water lost to the ocean after a three-year drought.


Understanding How Atmospheric Rivers Control Most of Earth’s Precipitation

The rain currently pummeling coastal California is relieving parched crops. It’s also a nuisance that’s delaying flights, uprooting trees, and causing devastating flooding.

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are to blame. These regions of humid air flow from the tropics into colder climates as strong winds, and condense when they encounter mountains. The warm air rises and cools over elevated land, forming clouds that dump rain and snow onto the earth below. ARs originate in the tropics because warm air holds more moisture.

“Atmospheric rivers are literally rivers in the sky, the rivers of water vapor that transport massive amounts of water in the atmosphere,” Marty Ralph, a hydrometeorologist, tells Popular Mechanics…To predict precipitation over the West Coast, Ralph and a co-researcher began studying atmospheric rivers. “We’re essentially measuring the atmospheric river itself over the ocean,” Ralph says. “We need to know the vertical details of the AR and [analyze] the lowest 10,000 feet.” Very little data exists on this region, because clouds tend to block ARs from a satellite’s view.

So, Air Force planes do the job; they fly into atmospheric rivers, dropping 10–12 little sensors that are about the size of a Coke can and equipped with parachutes. As they descend, the sensors measure temperature, pressure, wind, and moisture, and then communicate that data back to the airplane via radio. Next, the airplane sends the data via satellite to “a big bucket of weather data that weather prediction models around the world draw from to start the next forecast,” Ralph explains.

Meteorology has advanced so much in recent decades. It boggles the mind. Though there remains insufficient connections between informed professionals and a public which might live a safer, more productive life with more information available…in understandable form.

Rivian truck sighting

On our usual Sunday morning grocery expedition. Helen parked at one of the big box supermarkets stores for Opal Apples and some Cara-Caras. Leaving me listening to music for the short wait. Our usual stop to complete our weekly needs was coming up – Trader Joe’s – and for some reason, we thought they were sold out of those two essentials.

Helen went into the store. As noted, I was listening to music out in the Mav [her name is Moxie] and my first ever sighting of a Rivian pickup truck happened in the next parking spot. Gray – just like the press photo up top. Couple inside hopped out and headed into the store for some portion of their morning’s shopping. Helen was back out in another few minutes and we both took note of – and discussed the Rivian – before heading off to TJ’s.

Have to say it looked pretty snazzy. Didn’t even think of taking a side-by-side comparison snap with my iPhone. And it should look snazzy. You can buy three Mavericks for the price tag of one of these Rivians. Not equivalent comparisons; but, different lifestyle categories to begin with.

Still, it’s nice to see what sort of high quality folks at a startup like Rivian can rollout the door.

USPS ready to buy 66000 EVs

Oshkosh Winning Design

The long-running saga of the United States Postal Service’s delivery fleet took another turn when Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced that the service is increasing the number of electric vehicles it plans to purchase. The new plan calls for a minimum of 60,000 Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV) by 2028, 45,000 of which will be battery EVs. The USPS will also buy an additional 21,000 commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) EVs—perhaps EVs like the Ford e-Transit or the BrightDrop Zevo 600—for deliveries by 2028. And from 2026, all vehicles bought by the USPS will be BEVs.

Further establishing the precedent for modern progressive business in the GOUSA.

Maverick Notes

Our Maverick continues to perform beyond expectations.

I was reluctant about getting a hybrid – preferring to wait for an affordable and available full-electric vehicle. Helen had done a better job of research than I had. That was certain. Most of my reading, R&T test drives, etc. left me convinced these hybrids were mostly limited to electric performance only below 20-25mph. Our Mav usually runs all the way up to 45mph (or a tad more) before blending in the ICE (infernal combustion engine). Consequently the dash readout for mileage at the end of any trip – mostly local stuff – like, today, for example, read out at 70+mpg. And even that varies greatly whether going to town (more uphill) or returning home (more downhill).

I can live with that any time.

Part, certainly, is Helen’s skill at feeling how much she can put her foot into it or stay feathering. She has the touch and delights in reading out the numbers after 20 or 30 miles of errand-running for our wholly-retired household. 70mpg or more isn’t unusual. Stops at our friendly neighborhood filling station are a lot more rare than my father-in-law or I make with our RAM pickups. Even though his is a turbodiesel-powered critter.

I’m now convinced another critical part of this equation is Ford’s software engineers. They’ve built-in acres more flexibility than I’ve read about in anyone’s test drives of competing iron. That allows for easily maintaining whatever cruising speed Helen wants. Not a lot of shifting forth-and-back between power sources. The “blending” is clean and virtually unnoticeable.

I’ve been remiss about taking pictures of our new Mav. It lives in the garage until we go out somewhere and I keep forgetting to take a photo when we get get wherever we’re going. Or even to just get my butt back out and take a quick snap in the driveway. Ours is cactus gray. The photo up top is supposed to be cactus gray – lifted from DuckDuckGo. Tomorrow morning is grocery day and I’ll try to remember to take a couple pictures with my iPhone.

Ukraine’s nuclear power base quickly returning to capacity

All nuclear power plants that are located in the government-controlled territory of Ukraine are already connected to the power system. In 1-2 days it will be possible to return to scheduled power outages instead of emergency ones.

“Now the energy system is fully integrated, all regions are connected. It is again connected to the energy system of the European Union… All three nuclear power plants located in the unoccupied territory are working… In 1-2 days, they will reach their normal planned capacity, and we expect that it will be possible to return to scheduled power outages instead of emergency ones,” Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, CEO of Ukrenergo national energy company, said during the nationwide telethon on Thursday evening.

As a result of the November 23 attack, Ukraine lost a significant part of electricity generation at various types of power plants: nuclear, thermal, and hydroelectric, he noted.

I tend to take note of incidents like this in wartime. Mostly because most educated nations in the broad West/East ensemble rely much more on nuclear power generation of electricity than the “advanced” USA. We’re at 20%. Nations like France [for example] are up to 70%.

Everything we’re told we should worry about have been dealt with generations ago…elsewhere…satisfactorily.

Now! An earthquake early-warning system — on your phone

Your phone can now warn you before an earthquake arrives.

Yes, before…

This feat of science and personal technology is the best example I’ve seen of how smartphones can help protect tens of millions of us from significant danger. I’ll show you how to get it.

Known as ShakeAlert, America’s earthquake early-warning system was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners to give you typically up to 20 seconds of advance warning before significant shaking arrives, or even a minute in extreme circumstances. If you’re close to the epicenter, you might not get much notice — but it could still be enough to protect yourself.

In the house or at work? 20 seconds can be time enough to get out.

Sustainable City designed for 150,000 people

URB has unveiled plans to develop Africa’s most sustainable city, a development that can host 150,000 residents. Known as The Parks, the city plans to produce 100% of its energy, water & food on-site through biodomes, solar-powered air-to-water generators, and biogas production. The 1,700-hectare project will feature residential, medical, ecotourism, and educational hubs to become one of the significant contributors to the growing green and tech economy in South Africa.

Green spaces are the heart and arteries of the entire development. As the central axis, a 5km long multifunctional green spine integrates 12 mixed-use biophilic areas to connect residents to all hubs within the city in minutes by walking, cycling, or high-speed autonomous E.V shuttles.

The resilient field serves not only the landscape but promotes good land use. The Parks will incorporate different urban farming methods such as community gardens, biodomes, aquaponics, and vertical farms. The agricultural infrastructure will also adopt the world’s first high-tech scalable FEW+W smart urban farms, which use saline water. In addition, the city will provide fish and dairy farms enabled by data science, IoT, AI, and automation to produce higher-quality foods that are locally grown. Organic waste will support biogas production as an additional source of energy.

Not a bad start. A topic, a style, we may all eventually benefit from in our own countries.