Category Archives: Something about baseball

The Trials and Travesties of a Seattle Mariners Batting Practice Pitcher, 1981-1983

When Seattle Mariners pitching coach, Frank Funk, called me in from the bullpen that Sunday in July 1981, I was pretty nervous.  I had never before pitched to major league batters.  Tommy Davis, the former Dodger outfielder, had been nice enough to warm me up in the bullpen instead of one of the Mariners catchers.  I strolled onto the mound, heart pounding.  I had played at this University of Washington Husky campus venue, Graves Field, where the Husky baseball team played, many times as a member of Seattle’s“Paintings Unlimited”  semipro summer team.   Still, the whole scenario of the Graves Field filled with major league players just after the 1981 baseball strike had ended, was surreal.

Since I didn’t follow major league baseball at all, I had no idea who the first batter I was to pitch to was, his gray hair protruding from his Seattle Mariners cap.  I thought he might be a coach just to check me out before the actual players stepped in.    I began throwing in as machine-like mode as I could, one ball after another; no dawdling is permitted.  And I had velocity; the ball did not arch but zipped in.  I estimate that it was in the mid-60s to maybe 70 mph.   It was exactly as I threw BP to my semi-pro team before our games.

Somehow, I got into a rhythm in spite of my nervousness, and it was one strike after another.  And I was giving up a lot of solid line drives and bombs.  After that old guy with the gray hair sticking out from under his cap finished, then came Lenny Randle, Gary Gray, Julio Cruz, Bruce Bochte, and a couple of others.   Gray, who was having a great start until the major league baseball strike, hit quite a few out.  That whole 1981 Mariners roster is here.

Later, I found out who that gray-haired batter was; it turned out to be Tom Paciorek, the player who was leading the American League in hitting when I threw to him!  Honestly, I had no idea who he was.

After my BP stint at Husky Ballpark that day I got a lot of positive statements from the players, “sweet BP”, high fives, and such.  I was told by Coach Funk that they would call me down to the Kingdome when the games resumed.  Of course, I could never be sure that it would really happen; maybe they were just being nice.

But, in any event, whether they did or not, I had a witness that day.  My good friend and grad student in our Cloud and Aerosol Research Group, Steve Rutledge with whom I played catch with regularly at the University of Washington, was there at Husky ballpark that Saturday afternoon, and saw the whole “drama” unfold.   

The next day, to my surprise, there was a tiny mention of “my work” in the Seattle Times.  And, to top it off, Dave Parsons, another graduate student in our group had seen that little Seattle Times note and pasted it on my desk at the U-Dub, along with a little sign that read that there would be a “$1 charge for touring the desk of Art “Golden Arm” Rangno.”  It was pretty funny.  An awful lot of guys can throw BP, but to my co-workers and grad students in the department, it was something special.

A few days later the 1981 baseball season resumed its abbreviated schedule, and while I was at work, I “got the call” to join the major league team—as a batting practice pitcher!

It was pretty exciting since my desire for throwing BP was really just to see how different a major league team was in hitting a baseball compared to my own Seattle Paintings Unlimited team for whom I pitched BP to regularly.  I liked to throw BP with velocity, and my team loved it.

“Regularly” meant throwing a LOT of BP, too!  In the Western International League (WIL) that we played in, there were four-nine-inning games a week beginning in June and continuing through mid-August.  The WIL was a league comprised of a sprinkling of ex-pros and summer college teams, like the Washington Huskies (sans seniors).  One stalwart to play briefly in that summer league decades later (later renamed, the Pacific International League) was former Giant star, Tim Lincecum.

That Paintings Unlimited team had a regular supply of pro baseball signees: eight were signed from that one team during my 5-year tenure on it, including several that made the major leagues, if only for “a cup of coffee.”  One was Mike Kinnunen, a Washington State pitching star, who, the very next year after his 1979 season with Paintings, was pitching for the Minnesota Twins and against the likes of Don Mattingly! In 1980, I was batting cleanup, and the hitter before me, Jay Erdahl, was to make the last out at the College World Series in Omaha that year as his “Cinderella team,” the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors, lost to the Arizona Wildcats.

It was a heady time playing on that Seattle north end team.

But by 1981, at 39 years of age, and competing against area college players, I wasn’t playing anymore.  For all the years that I played beginning in 1977, I had been the oldest starting player in the league and was always vulnerable.  Not playing anymore in 1981, riding the bench, warming up pitchers, meant I was hungry to do something more with a baseball.  And it was that summer that I read that the Mariners, following the end of the baseball strike of 1981, would begin working out at the University of Washington where I worked.  And I took a chance and went out for a tryout as a BP pitcher.


The Mariners were pretty bad during my stint as a BP pitcher, 1981-1983 under poor manager, Rene Lachemann.  Lachemann was fired during the 1983 season, and before he was fired, as you can imagine, he was under intense media scrutiny and pummeled with advice.

Lachemann ran around the perimeter of the outfield before the Mariners games, and being out there myself during BP, I yelled to him just before he was let go:

 “Hey, Rene….about the team….” At this point he turned toward me, one of his BP pitchers, with the darkest glower you can imagine.    I continued, with a smile: “I don’t have any advice about the team.”  Lachemann broke up in laughter,  and that moment still comprises one of my fondest memories.

Another memorable moment was pitching to just two batters, Paciorek and Bochte for my whole 20-25-minute stint.  The reason?  They thought my delivery resembled that of Jim Palmer and the Mariners were playing the Baltimore Orioles that night with Palmer pitching.  Paciorek and Bochte together got five hits that night!

Then, in 1984, I was “released” by Del Crandall, the new Mariners manager.  Instead of having local amateurs come in and pitch, the team would now use its coaches almost exclusively for BP, with I think, one exception, Jerry Fitzgerald, a fellow “volunteer” BP pitcher who was a lefty.  Lefties are always in demand!

But there was another factor that led to my “release” in 1984, one that came out of the blue, a factor that was hard for me to believe.

In one 1983 BP session later in the season at the Kingdome, Steve Gordon, the Mariners bullpen catcher in those days, caught me.  Usually you just threw at the netting behind home plate.   At one point while I was throwing, Steve raised his right arm in a throwing motion and waved it at me several times, using an overhand motion.   Since I was throwing one strike after another with “velocity,” I thought he was signaling to me about how great I was throwing.


When my session was over, Steve came over to me and said, “The guys are getting pissed because you’re cutting the ball.”

“Cutting” the ball in baseball meant that you are throwing a ball that had movement; it was not going on a straight line which makes it eminently hittable.

I was flabbergasted, and felt truly bad, since as an amateur pitcher from time to time, I never was accused of throwing a ball with movement, a downfall for anyone that wants to pitch.  It was so ironic that I was now being told that my ball had “movement!”

I also began to realize that I wasn’t giving up many home runs while throwing BP.  The fun part for the players is to just blast the ball as friggin’ far or as hard as they could; it made them feel good, get confidence, and that wasn’t happening.  Richie Zisk, the Mariners slugger of the day, once told me I had “the best sinker in the league”, but he was SURELY joking, maybe even being sarcastic I thought.  I forgot about it.

I began to think about some other not-so-great things that had happened in 1983.  One HUGELY embarrassing thing for a BP pitcher had happened during my session pitching to the struggling Al Cowens; he swung and missed a batting practice pitch!  My face turned red and I kind of apologized, muttering a “sorry” to him.  Then, he broke his bat on another pitch.  I felt so BAD!  But I didn’t think I had anything to do with it; he was in mental funk about hitting that season and nothing could be hit properly.

Another dismal chapter (travesty?) in 1983 involved Gaylord Perry, a good hitting Hall of Fame pitcher.  He stepped into the batter’s box during BP wanting to crush a few just for fun—pitchers don’t bat in the American League.  After a few swings and misses, and foul balls, he quit in disgust yelling at me, “That’s terrible!”  I never forgot THAT comment.

I only wish I had been fast enough to add, “Hey, I was just putting goop on the ball like you did all those years to see how you liked it, you washed up buffoon.”

Perry was a well-known spitball pitcher who amassed many of his 300 wins in a dishonest way, but one in which baseball generally looked the other way.  In a 1982 weather forecast I made for KZAM-FM, I alluded to the Perry “methodology.”  My housemate recorded it, something that may be a candidate for the media weather forecasting “Hall of Shame.”  it’s a little muffled.  The DJ, Dave Scott, chats for about 25 s before I come on with my forecasting travesty “honoring” Gaylord:

In my defense of this so-called,  “schtick” presentation of weather, let us remember that in 1981, the weather forecast methodology was described by the LA Times as consisting of “Clowns and Computers.”  I did my best to fit in!

Later, and in trying to be analytical about “movement” on the ball, I thought that maybe my sweaty hand—I was always nervous stepping out on the Kingdome mound, had maybe caused that movement that I did not mean to have.

And you were always throwing almost brand-new baseballs from the basket of balls next to you that held about 40 of them.  Those new balls had no roughness, so you had to be careful throwing them, making sure you had a good grip.  Maybe I was gripping them too tightly?

I did not move up from the pitching rubber like the other BP pitchers did.  I threw from the mound like a regular pitcher (and behind the protective screen), as I did for my semipro team.  I never changed that style.  I was not throwing anywhere  near the speed of major league fastball, of course.   But maybe that extra distance gave the ball more time to move.  I never discovered what caused the movement.

Other things that happened….

Three non-strikes in a row happened a couple of times, and the quiet, that lack of a ball being struck virtually every second, is really unsettling.  The whole Kingdome seemed to go silent at such moments.  They were rare, but they did happen.

If that wasn’t bad enough, during a 1983 BP session, I hit a Mariners batter in the knee, starting centerfielder, Joe Simpson.  There was an audible “oohhh” from the tiny early arriving Kingdome crowd.

On another major slip, I made Dave Henderson come out of his helmet when a pitch I threw got away high and inside causing him to drop to the ground.

You know, I am sounding more and more like a really bad BP pitcher!

If your wondering, only one batter on one occasion asked to practice hitting against curve balls in BP, John Moses, a Mariners center fielder.

An important fact:  in 1983 the Seattle Mariners had the 2nd lowest MLB  team batting average at 0.240.  No doubt this contributed to what happened next.

So, when I showed up in the locker room for the start of the next season in 1984 with the “guys”, I was given the word that my services were no longer needed.  I left the locker room kind of embarrassed, passing the security guard I had just said “hello” to, hopped on my bicycle, and rode home.  Yep, I peddled every time to the Kingdome from the U of Washington, and then home to north Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood, probably a good 10 miles total, and with slopes and traffic.  It was a great warmup coming in.

I remember, too, in those simpler days, how easy it was to get in the locker room of the Seattle Mariners with my little bag of equipment, by just saying to the security folks, “BP”.  Of course, after a couple of times they recognized you and in you went to join the “guys.”

It was fun to do that BP, too, because unlike the other BP pitchers, and before I pitched my 20 minutes or so, I ran around in the Kingdome outfield like a mad man chasing those balls hit in batting practice—I played outfield in my early amateur career and this was outfield practice.

A couple of times, too, when a player found out I was a meteorologist at the University of Washington, we would stand around in the outfield during BP and talk weather.  I remember a long conversation with Richie Zisk out there about El Ninos, a giant, headline-grabbing one having happened that 1982-83 winter.  He really asked a LOT of questions.

If you were here in Catalina, AZ, in 1982-83, you would remember that giant El Nino year.  In that water year (Oct-Sept) we received over 29 inches of rain, and 33 inches if you count the first few days of October 1983 when the worst weather disaster in Tucson history struck due to those several days of heavy rains at the beginning of October.

Back to baseball…

It may seem odd, but I could hardly stand watching a major league game even in the stands right behind home plate.  As a player, playing with top amateur talent, the last thing you wanted to do was sit on your butt and watch other guys play!  You wanted to be playing against the BEST yourself.

So, while my Mariners BP “pay” was to sign in for four free tickets amid the players’ wives behind home plate, I only went to one game for a few innings during those three seasons I pitched BP.  I usually gave my tickets away by signing in the names of folks from the U of WA Atmospheric Sciences Department where I worked on the guest ticket list before I left.

While I many of those great seats were used by folks in our Department, the Mariners were so bad in those days (1981-1983), that on MANY occasions I could not GIVE away the best seats at a MLB game, the ones right behind home plate!

After a while, I didn’t make much of an effort since it was kind of embarrassing to be turned down two or three times by my co-workers and grad students.  Almost as bad as being turned down two or three times for a date by the same girl.

The Mariners played music on the Kingdome sound system during BP.  One particular piece, a Beatles disco-style medley by “Stars on Long Play” that sounded exactly like the Beatles, was played repeatedly during the time I pitched:

To this day, hearing this, if I do, puts me back in the Kingdome on the mound with a basket of baseballs next to me.

I realized I could have pitched BP for many years if I had pitched the way the other BP pitchers did; closer to home plate, off the mound, lobbing the ball at fairly low speeds.  I was arrogant to think that the way I liked BP to be thrown to myself, balls with some zip, was the way to do it for MLB batters.  It seemed OK at the start until the ball started to “move.”

Well, that’s all I can remember right now, but it’s already too much.

Best model output for you

Been looking around at quite a number of model runs (well 2, anyway) trying to find the best one for you.  Here it is.  Its yesterday’s WRF-GFS run that was based on 11 AM AST global data.  Has some great rains for us here in Arizona.  Those rains, and that incredible hurricane that saunters up the coast of Baja in about ten days, aren’t depicted as well in later model runs, so there’s not much point in showing them.  If you want a great, OBJECTIVE forecasting, you know, go to Bob, or the NWS, or wait for Mike L’s detailed one from the U of AZ later this morning!  You’re not going to find “objectivity” here when it comes to forecasting rain for a desert region1. Let’s look at two examples of weather excitement in that now-obsolete-run-but-doesn’t-mean-it won’t-happen-anyway-just-because-its-a little-older-run”1: 1) Lotta rain in Arizona (that’s a different near-hurricane over there in the SW corner of the map, one that in one model run from Canada, formerly went over Yuma!  Sorry Yuma, and all of Arizona, both of which would have gotten, in that event, a bigger dent in the drought than shown below.  Oh, well.

Valid on Thursday at 11 AM AST. Green pixels denote those areas where the model thinks rain has occurred during the prior 6 hours. Most of AZ covered in green pixies! Sweet. 

2) Fascinating near-hurricane just off San Diego on the 29th of August, likely surviving so well due to the California Niño mentioned here lately.  BTW, this particular hurricane is predicted to be exceptionally large and intense out there when it revs up in a few days, maybe a Category 4 at its peak, looking at some of the model runs.  “Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learnin’ how….”  The Beach Boys, 1962, sayin’ it like it was for us near-beach bums way back then when the summer hurricanes in the Mexican Pacific sent huge waves poleward on to our southern California beaches, as the one below will2.

Valid in ten days.
Valid in ten days, Friday, August 29th at 11 AM AST.  Near hurricane brings rain to San Diego.  Colored regions now denote where the model thinks it has rained in the prior TWELVE hours (coarser resolution because its not going to be that accurate in the placement of highs and lows anyway, so why waste time over-calculating stuff?

 Yesterday’s clouds

What an outstanding, if surprising day it was!  After it appeared, in later model runs available late yesterday morning,  that the late afternoon/evening bash from the high country wasn’t going to happen after all (producing local glumness), we had a remarkable in situ explosion of cloud tops.  Those clouds just erupted from an innocuous, patchy group of Stratocumulus that invaded the sky around 5 PM.   Still, even with the early turrets jutting up there, it didn’t seem possible, at 7 PM, there would be much more growth into showers, let alone, thunderstorms with frequent lightning lasting several hours that happened. Eventually rain even got into Sutherland Heights/Catalina, with 0.17 inches here, and 0.12 inches at the Golder Bridge, and that didn’t seem possible since the rain shafts were so locked onto the Catalinas, and east side for so long.  Dan Saddle, about 5 mi S of Oracel, counting the mid-afternoon thunderstorms that locked in upthere, got a 2.68 inches over the past 24 h!  That should have sent a little water down the CDO. BTW, a location in the Rincons is reporting 4.09 inches in the past 24!

5:50 AM.  Day started with "colorful castellanus."  Hope you saw this.
5:50 AM. Day started with “colorful castellanus.” Hope you saw this.
Update ann DSC_0239
12:26 PM. After a late morning start, the Cumulus congestus tops were streaming away from the origin zone of Mt. Lemmon to over the north part of Saddlebrooke and the Charouleau Gap. No ice evident yet, but it was just about to show itself.
BTW, the “51ers” have a nice baseball team in Vegas (of course), this brought to my attention by neighbors recently, showing that a degree of strangeness permeates American life, as also shown in these blogs.



12:44 PM.  Ice virga now seen in the  right hand side falling out as I passed the budding wildlife overpass now being constructed on Oracle Road.  I guess scents and signage will be used to direct wildlife to the overpass.
12:44 PM. Ice virga now seen in the right hand side falling out as I passed the budding wildlife overpass now being constructed on Oracle Road. I guess scents and signage will be used to direct wildlife to the overpass.


1:49 PM.  Took about an hour more of rain and development for the thunder to start from these locked in turrets that kept springing on The Lemmon.
1:49 PM. Took about an hour more of rain and development for the thunder to start from these locked in turrets that kept springing on The Lemmon.


4:54 PM.  Long before this, it was "all over', the rains no doubt up there had helped to put the fire out, so-to-speak, and with no anvils advancing toward us, there was even hardly any point to remain conscious.  It is done.
4:54 PM. Long before this, it was “all over’, the rains no doubt up there had helped to put the fire out, so-to-speak, and with no anvils advancing toward us, there was even hardly any point to remain conscious. It is finished.
6:54 PM.  Shallow grouping of Stratocumulus provided a nice, if boring, backdrop to the setting sun's light on Samaniego Ridge.
6:54 PM, 2 h later.   Shallow grouping of Stratocumulus provided a nice, if boring, backdrop to the setting sun’s light on Samaniego Ridge.
7:04 PM.  Only ten minutes later, and I'm out wondering around in the backyard looking for a nice sunset shot, when I see this shocking site, a protruding turret far above the other tops.  Still, I pooh-poohed anything but a ragged collapse in the minutes ahead.  It was too late in the day for heating or anything else to generate rain in situ from these lower clouds (now topping Mt. Lemmon).
7:04 PM. Only ten minutes later, and I’m out wondering around in the backyard looking for a nice sunset shot, when I see this shocking sight for the time of day, a protruding turret far above the other tops. Still, I pooh-poohed anything happening but a ragged collapse in the minutes ahead. It was too late in the day for heating or anything else to generate rain in situ from these lower clouds (now topping Mt. Lemmon).  Nice pastel colors, though.


7:32 PM.  Though "pinkie" in the prior photo did fade, new turrets kept bubbling upward, and in disbelief, this one reached up beyond the ice-forming temperature threshhold (is probably topping out between 25-30 kft, not huge) and a strong rain shaft emerged on the Catalinas.  After a little while longer, lightining began to flash to the east as the Reddington Pass area started to get hammered.  Eventually in the early nighttime hours. these cells propagated to the west, giving us that bit of rain here in The Heights of Sutherland.  How nice, and how mind-blowing this whole evening was!
7:32 PM. Though “pinkie” in the prior photo did fade, new turrets kept bubbling upward, and in disbelief, this one reached up beyond the ice-forming temperature threshhold (is probably topping out between 25-30 kft, not huge) and a strong rain shaft emerged on the Catalinas. After a little while longer, lightining began to flash to the east as the Reddington Pass area started to get hammered. Eventually in the early nighttime hours. these cells propagated to the west, giving us that bit of rain here in The Heights of Sutherland. How nice, and how mind-blowing this whole evening was!






























Got some Stratocu (castellanus in some parts) topping Sam (Samaniego Ridge) this morning, an outstanding indication of a lot of moisture in the air, moisture that’s not just at the surface.  U of AZ has thunderstorms moving toward Catalina during the late morning (!) and afternoon from the SW, not the usual direction we’re accustomed to.  So, keep eyeball out toward Twin Peaks or so for exciting weather today!  Oh, my, towering Cu top converted to ice, must be 25-30 kft up there right now at 7:06 AM!  Also, notice nice shadow on lower Ac clouds.

The End


1“Truth-in-packaging” portion of web blog statement.

1Its chaos in the models due to errors in them we don’t always know about, chaos that we try to get a handle on with plots from the NOAA spaghetti factory.  But you know all that already, so my apologies for repeating myself again and again.  I thought I would see what would happen if I put TWO “1” footnotes….

2Of course, in those days, we had little knowledge about how many hurricanes there were down there due to the lack of satellite data and ship reports.  But when the “Weather Bureau”, as it was called in those days did know, there was always good surf on the south facing beaches, like Zuma Beach.  So going to the beach, unlike now where wave forecasting is so good, was a real crap shoot.   You’d come over that first viewpoint of the ocean on Malibu Canyon Road, on your way to Zuma. one that over looked the ocean a little offshore from Malibu,  and either go, “Holy Crap!”, or hope for the best.  It was a swell time for lightly employed youth.  Below, the best  “Holy Crap!” view coming around to that viewpoint, early September 1963 (never saw anything like it before or afterwards; swells were never visible so far offshore from this spot,  meaning Zuma would be gigantic).  Still remember those Zuma waves, so far out to sea, as the height of small telephones…

Nearly drowned that day at Zuma, me and my pal ignoring lifequard's advice not to go in.  HELL, we'd been body surfing the biggest ones we could there for years by then.  Fortunately, he didn't have to come and get me, which saved a lot of face.
Nearly drowned that day at Zuma, me and my pal ignoring lifequard’s advice not to go in. HELL, we’d been body surfing the biggest ones we could there for years by then. Fortunately, he didn’t have to come and get me, which saved a lot of face.

In case you missed it, and a note about missing cold air reports

7:01 PM Virga from Altostratus clouds is illuminated by the setting sun.

Took time out from a bazillion chores concerned with moving to a new house here, and other doings for a U of WA archive project to savor another great sunset here in Catalina: SONY DSCSONY DSC


The weather way ahead

Before looking ahead, look outside now (6:20 AM) There are some gorgeous patterns in Altocu and Cirrocu!

The models have gone real bad on us, taking away rain that was once predicted here in early May. Sure, its unusual, but it could have happened. Now its pretty much gone (for now).

In the meantime, sometime very unusual is forecast for the central and southeast US.    Can’t remember seeing  a pattern like this so late in the winter where in really cold upper low center just goes down to Natchez, MS as in this loop. Lots of low temperature records likely to be set for early May if this pattern comes to pass.

Valid for mid-day, Tuesday, May 7th.
Valid for mid-day, Tuesday, May 7th.

This continues a trend, too, this spring of well below normal temperatures in the Plains States in the middle portion of this forecast loop.  They had one of the coldest springs ever in the northern Plains, and the latest measurable snowfall ever just happened in Wichita, KS.  Just yesterday, the latest freeze date in the 91 years of records was established at Wichita Falls, TX, when the temperature dipped to 29 F, nine days later than any prior freeze day.

Here are some additional details, as provided by climate issues troublemaker Mark Albright, former Washington State Climatologist, and friend,  who has been complaining lately that if these were high temperature records, they’d be all over the news, but low ones get swept under the media rug.

Here’s Mark’s statement from a few days ago:

“The coldest baseball game in major league history was played yesterday in Denver where the game time temperature was 23 F.  It breaks the record set just last week in Denver.  You can watch the video here to see the conditions at Coors Field.

“This story echoes my thoughts exactly.  Why aren’t we hearing from the news outlets about the historic spring cold wave gripping the US and Canada in 2013.  When it was warm last year we heard all about it.

In Fargo ND 45 consecutive days (10 March – 23 April) have passed without a single day of above normal temperature.  In fact, they have yet to record a temperature warmer than 43 F this year through the 23rd of April.  March 2013 averaged -10.5 F below normal and April 2013 is even colder at -12.6 F below normal so far in Fargo ND.  This sets up a major risk of severe flooding in a week or two when the Spring thaw finally arrives.

To the north of Fargo, Saskatchewan is reporting their coldest spring in over 100 years:

Unusual cold has also been seen in interior Alaska where Fairbanks is running -14.9 F below normal in April 2013.”

While it will likely be getting warmer over the next 100 years, we seem to be afraid of reporting low temperatures and cold;  that is,  while it gets gradually warmer, we seem to be afraid or mentioning that weather will be pretty much doing what its always done, being abnormal a lot of the time, too.  Even I get worked up if I think there is a news bias against reporting cold air!  It ain’t right.

Seeing red

Well, here it is, the NOAA Catalina spaghetti output for March 8th, 5 PM AST, hold the sauce:

The 564 decameter contours over Catalina and environs on March 8th at 5 PM.
The 564 decameter height contours for 500 millibars over Catalina and environs (in the center) on March 8th at 5 PM. The yellow line is the 5 PM AST model prediction, and the gray pixel in the lower left corner is what’s left of the same contour (after I cut and pasted) yesterday’s 5 AM AST prediction. They were pretty much showing the same thing.

The plot at left, with likely a Guinness record for a long, thin caption, pretty much guarantees a big trough of cold air here by then, another door opens into winter, which seems to be gone right this moment, and, being March, you might be thinking, “la-dee-dah, no more winter here in southeast Arizona.”  But as I often point out to my reader, and while trying to be a bit delicate about it, “You’d be so WRONG! I can’t even describe how WRONG you would be!”  So keep that balloon-like parka ready, heck, there could even be some snowflakes with this.

And, of course, I am a be little disappointed, well, royally, because you should have seen this coming in the red dot-plot at left for Catalina on March 8th already, and I wouldn’t have to admonish you again.  Oh, well.

BTW, the “red dot” is a baseball term used to describe the appearance of a slider coming at the batter–there’s a red dot in the center of the ball caused by the spin and where most of the red lacings appear to be concentrated because the pitcher had to grip the ball a certain way.  Seen’em, at one time.  Of course, you wouldn’t remember the great pitchers like Lee Goldammer  of Canova, SD, or Dave Gassman; the latter amassing over 4,000 strikeouts in South Dakota summer baseball league play. It was a big story in the Mitchell Republic–they keep track of that stuff there (amazing and charming).  Lee Goldammer pitched a DOUBLE header and his team won the SD State Tournament  back in the late 1960s.   (All true!)  You see, Lee Goldammer struck me out on three pitches in 19721.  Man he was good!  I had hardly gotten to the plate, and I was walking back again!

Had a nice sunset a couple of days ago, some pretty Cirrus clouds again.  Where I’m from (Seattle), Cirrus and sunsets are generally obscured by Stratus, Stratocumulus, and every other kind of cloud imaginable so that you don’t see them often because those clouds extend for thousands of miles to the west where the sun is setting.

6:28 PM, February 27th, not last night.
6:28 PM, February 27th, not last night.


1I was working that summer for North American Weather Consultants as a “radar meteorologist” in Mitchell, SD, directing up to four cloud seeding aircraft around thunderstorms.  But when it wasn’t raining, I could play baseball for the Mitchell Commercial Bank team.  The project was under the aegis of the South Dakota School of Mines,  was statewide in 1972.  Unfortunately, for the people on the ground, one of the aircraft was seeding a storm in June of that year hat dropped 14 inches of rain in the Black Hills, and the ensuing flash flood took over 200 lives.   “Hey”, it wasn’t one of my aircraft.  Ours were in the other end of the State.

Cloud seeding was absolved in the disaster, which was correct;  the weather set up that day did it.   No puny aircraft releasing stuff could have had any effect whatsoever.  However, had that 14 inches filled a dry reservoir to the top and saved a city from a water famine, what would the seeding company have claimed in that case?

I know.   It happened when I worked a project in India, the water famine there making the cover of Time magazine in 1975.  The reservoirs in Madras (now, “Chennai”), India, where I was assigned by Atmospherics, Inc., as a “radar meteorologist” whose job again was to direct a seeding aircraft around storms, were at the bottom, just about nothing left, when I arrived on July 14th, 1975.

But on the third day I was there, July 16th, 1975, a colossal group of thunderstorms developed over the catchment area of the Madras reservoirs and, naturally,  our one twin-engined Cessna was up seeding it.  It was my job to see that we had a plane up around the thunderstorms.

Five to 10 inches fell in that complex of thunderstorms with tops over 50,000 feet, and there was a flow into the Madras reservoir (oh, really?) for the first time in the month of July in about 14 years.  July is normally a pretty dry month in the eastern part of India, with Madras averaging just over 4 inches, only a little more than we do here in Catalina in July.  The main rainy season in Madras is October and November, during the “northeast” monsoon.  This is what those giants looked like:

Looking west-northwest from the Madras Internation AP at Meenambakkam, India
Looking west-northwest from the Madras International AP at Meenambakkam, India, 1975.

But as a meteorologist, I saw that a low center had formed aloft over southern India, weakening the normally dry westerly flow of the “southwest monsoon” across southern India after it goes over the western Ghats.  This weakening  allowed the moist air of the Bay of Bengal to rush westward and collide with that drier westerly flow and set up a “convergence zone” where the two winds clashed and the air was forced upward forming huge, quasi-stationary Cumulonimbus clouds.

Below, what I look like when I am in India and starting to be skeptical about this whole thing, “Is this going to be another cloud seeding chapter like the one in the Colorado Rockies, to graze the subject of baseball again?”

First row, 2nd from left.  Our pilot sits next to me.
First row, 2nd from left. Our pilot sits next to me.

As before in Rapid City, the weather set up the deluge; no aircraft releases could have made the least difference in such powerful thunderstorms.  While the leader of the seeding project did not take credit for the odd flow into the reservoir that July, it was pointed out to the media, without further comment that, “yes, we were up seeding it.”

The odd storm with that comment, sans a description of the weather set up that did it, made it too obvious to the uninformed that seeding had done it.  The Indian met service was, of course, outraged, and did their best to “fill in the blanks”, but the sponsor of the project, the Tamil Nadu state government, was unconvinced because it was obvious to them what had happened, and, after all, it was what they paid for!

I had already been disillusioned while working as a forecaster for a big, randomized  cloud seeding project in Durango, Colorado by 1975, and this project was to add more “fuel to the reanalysis fire” that I was later to be known for.  (hahaha, “known for”;  I was despised in some quarters for checking their work after they had published it and it was being cited by big scientists, and I mean huge,  like the ones in the National Academies, but like you when you thought summer was here NOW and there would be no more cold weather, THEY were so WRONG!  I can’t even describe how WRONG those national academy scientists were,  like the ones in Malone et al 1974 in their “Climate and Weather Modification;  Progress and Problems” tome.) ((I knew they were wrong because they talked about clouds and weather associated with cloud seeding experiments in the Rockies, and I was seeing how at odds those clouds and weather was with the way it had been portrayed in the journal literature by the scientists who conducted the precursor experiments to the one I was working on in Durango.))  (((Wow, this is quite a footnote, if it is still one.)))  ((((Still worked up about that 1974 National Academy of Sciences report, but don’t get me going on the 2003 updated one, which they botched royally, including not even citing the work I did correctly!  How bad is that??????))))  As the title of today states, “seeing red.”

The reason for going to India in the first place was that it had been indicated in our peer-reviewed journals that randomized seeding in Florida, that clouds like ones in India,  had responded to cloud seeding.  Besides, I had an ovwerwhelming desire to see giant, tropical Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds up close!  BTW, the Florida results fizzled out in a second randomized phase.

End of footnote I think….