Wednesday, January 28, 2009

01/28/09 Sarasota, FL 2008 Summer Vacation

Beautiful Siesta Key beach outside Sarasota, FL

It's the dead of winter so lets think Spring right? It's hard to believe I forgot to add pictures from last May's summer vacation, but then again when your chasing storms up and down Tornado Alley for months...sometimes you forget things. Anyhow, I thought I'd FINALLY add some photos from beautiful Sarasota, FL last summer. We ended up spending about a week in the sunshine state. Myself and Northern Illinois University graduates Chris Czapla and Jim Anderson were the group that made the trip. Our many stops included a trip to Orlando, FL to Universal Studios, Disney Land, and of course a couple beaches along the way after a long 2008 northern Illinois winter. One of the 2 beaches we visited was Siesta Key. It was ranked as one of the best beaches in the U.S. last year. Hopefully, this post will help with our winter doldrums in northern Illinois!

Palm trees as far as the eye can see
Cinderella's Castle at night (Disney Land Magic Kingdom)
Locals enjoying sailing and their jet skies
Beautiful bridge connecting the keys near Sarasota, FL to the peninsula
Palm tree in one of the parks we visited
Universal Studios in Orlando, FL
The "Twister" ride at Universal Studios
I wasn't in Tornado Alley and I still got a tornado ;) (Click this link to see the show)
A prop from the movie "Twister"
This is about as close as you ever want to be to a crocodile?
Magic Mountain
Lido Beach on Lido Key a few miles outside Sarasota, FL
Everyday we had classic sea-breeze thunderstorms around mid morning, yet to clear out by evening with many dry hours as well (Weather a little different on a peninsula)
More convection over downtown Sarasota, FL
Midway Airport with Chicago's magnificent sky-line in view

This was a great vacation and area to visit. It actually was the first beach I've seen...hard to believe right? I'll probably revisit this area in the near future. After chatting with some locals from Sarasota they brought to my attention that Sarasota and the Tampa, FL area have not been directly hit by a major hurricane in a long time. Locals however, fear that their "luck" will eventually run out. Hopefully it won't since this is a beautiful part of Florida to visit and live.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

01/15/09 Dekalb in a Deep Freeze

A winter-view at dusk...Holmes Student Center (left) Founders Memorial Library (center) Davis Hall (right) and Farraday West Hall (far right)

Tonight, Dekalb, IL could see it's all-time record low temperature in jeopardy as clears skies, radiational cooling, a dense snow-pack, and arctic air already in place allows temperatures to plummet overnight. Our high for the day managed to "warm", i use that term loosely to -7ºF, but this was at midnight last night. In that regard, we really never recovered today even with the sun beaming down this afternoon which sets the stage for an even colder night. As I suspected the models didn't catch on last night and were too conservative on "their" forecast lows. We nearly reached -20ºF this morning as I for seen a possibility last night. Tonight, -20ºF should be no fact between -20 to -25ºF appears to be a good bet tonight here in Dekalb for our low temperature. The record is -27ºF (all time low), but -22ºF is tonight's record low...they are both in jeopardy. Hey, if it's this cold why not break them right? I added a few images from today: Yes, -15ºF didn't stop me from getting around. If you've lived in the Midwest your whole life you learn to deal with what old man winter has to offer.

Davis Hall amidst the deep snowpack
Altgeld Hall as the sun sets on our first of two brutally cold days
Davis Hall during the late-afternoon
Another winter view (late-afternoon)
View behind Davis Hall

Will we break the records here in Dekalb tonight? Well we'll know by dawn tomorrow. It's gonna be very close...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

01/14/09 Dekalb Braces for the Arctic Plunge

Altgeld Hall this afternoon after last nights snow
with a snow depth now near 10" in Dekalb
, IL

Dekalb, IL and much of the Midwest is bracing for sub-zero low temperatures and even sub-zero high temperatures over the next 2 days. Last night, an Alberta clipper dropped more snow than "some" expected. Dekalb's final snow total is between 4-5" from last night's system. We now have nearly a 10" snow depth here in Dekalb which means you should prepare for even lower temperatures then the models are currently forecasting. I wouldn't be at all surprised seeing a -20ºF below-zero low temperature here tonight and tomorrow night. Out the window, clear skies have already encompassed Dekalb which will lead to more radiational cooling tonight.

Portrait view with the boilers working
overtime behind Altgeld Hall

Prepare for a brutal walk to class tomorrow with wind chills in "warning criteria". Coldest air in nearly 10 years...incredible!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

01/10/09 A Snowy Beginning to a Spring Semester

Altgeld Hall as the sun sets this evening

This evening, I ventured out on campus here in Dekalb, IL to check out the fresh snow that old man winter has been dumping on us since this past Friday. Finally, the snow stopped around 3:30 this afternoon after off-and-on snowfall since Friday. It wasn't a big winter storm just consistent light to moderate snow for the last couple of days. Due to it's long duration however it added up. I haven't heard any snow reports from here in Dekalb quite yet, but in surrounding areas 6-10" total snowfall seems common especially near Chicago. Thanks to frontogenetical forcing near the 700mb level we had a good duration of snow late last night through this morning with occasionally bursts of heavier snow with banding. To my liking, skies finally cleared this evening allowing me to be delighted with some picturesque scenes thanks to the low-sun angle. I've added a handful of images below:

Davis Hall this evening
Fluffy accumulation on this evergreen
Altgeld Hall yet again before the skies cleared
20 minutes later...(That's Midwest weather for you)
Are you seeing red?
Holmes Student Center & MLK Commons
Zulauf Hall & Cole Hall with a winter reflection
Holmes Student Center (left) & Williston Hall (right)

Another academic semester is about to begin this week here at Northern Illinois University. As far as the weather for the upcoming week...get ready for BRUTAL cold! The source region for this arctic air for late this upcoming week is from Alaska and you know how cold this time of the year it is in that area. These brutal cold outbreaks in the winter happen when ridging in the Pacific northwest occurs. This allows the "floodgates" to open and all that cold-air in Alaska spills into Canada and eventually the U.S. Maybe record cold here in Dekalb late next week? We'll see, it wouldn't surprise me especially with the deep snow pack we have across Northern Illinois now and climatology we're in the coldest time of the year. If you aren't already begging for Spring you will be by the end of next week. I assure you!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

01/01/-01/06/09 Macro-lens Photography

It's gettin Hot in Herre?

A few down days before the semester resumes at Northern Illinois University provided a perfect opportunity for some "macro" photography here at home. After all, the weather has been dull as of late. We've entered a fairly quiet weather pattern for the Midwest over the last week, but that will change with some snow and brutal cold over the next few days and week. I used my brand-new Canon 60mm Macro lens for this post. This type of lens is used for "very close-up" photography on a macro level. This is the third lens I've obtained for the Canon Rebel Xti. I was sort of surprised with the results, but I did do lots of research on this lens before obtaining it so I wasn't completely surprised. Below are some images taken with my newly acquired Canon 60mm Macro lens:

Fireplace photography
Incredible detail...
Plasma ball (Macro-lens)
Strange similarity to sunspots...
Another x-ray device?

Snowflakes are exceptionally photogenic. If you end up getting a lens similar to this one I have a good tip for you. Spray paint a piece of cardboard black. (Black) because it will make the snowflakes stand out in the foreground. Next, set it outside for a brief minute or two when snow is falling. The time in this case depends on the snow intensity to collect just enough snowflakes. The heavier the snow the faster the snow will collect and vice-versa. After you've obtained just enough to have some decent "contrast" start photographing. You can also do this on black concrete as well, but of course you'll get some pebbles in the asphalt in some of your photos. This lens is a good future investment to photograph: snowflakes, ice storms, insects, and spring nature photos. I'll be definitely looking forward to using this more this spring.