Turbulent Times

For some time now I’ve mentioned that the air seems more turbulent. That there is more of a “bursty” nature to the winds in my area. As though there were more of a vertical component to the air flow. So this morning I’m watching The Weather Channel and for the first time I see them showing a map of turbulence reports, both at altitude and nearer ground level.

Now when you have a “black swan” event, it really is telling you something. And while turbulence may be watched closely by someone or other, it’s not something I’ve seen reported in a big way since the 1970’s when “microbursts” downed a couple of airliners and it was a ‘hot topic’ for a while. Basically, the “novelty” of the report matters.

Air Turbulence 24 Feb 2011

Air Turbulence 24 Feb 2011

This map is the present level of turbulence along with high surface winds. Most of the country is having issues. I have no idea where to get historical data to compare with the present status, but that there are such maps is encouraging. IMHO it is one of the ‘forgotten men’ of climate science. All these folks are staring at the thermometer and not paying any attention to the wind speed nor vertical winds. As it is quite a bit colder at altitude, the degree of vertical mixing seems like a key issue to me. And right now we have a lot of it.

Here is a live map and link to The Weather Channel Site.

USA Turbulence Map

USA Turbulence Map


These Folks:


on this page:


Have a ‘way cool’ global interactive map that looks sort of “google like” but with colored dots on them. Click a dot and you get what looks like a Pilot Report of turbulence. There are many over the USA, not so many in the rest of the world. So is this just a ‘normal weather event’ for the USA or has the trend to “more” put us over a threshold? I don’t know (and I don’t know where to get the historical trend data). But for now, we can at least enjoy the show… (And remember to “Hang onto your hat, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!” ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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14 Responses to Turbulent Times

  1. Thanks, E.M.

    These are indeed turbulent times, in more ways than one.

    There is a great unease in the world, an unease that seems to plague all sections of society, worldwide. There is a growing sense of impending doom.

    A participant in the NR (neutron repulsion*) discussion group expressed concern that “Muslim fanatics” might use NR as a weapon while DOE and ARPA-E ignored overwhelming evidence that NR is the most powerful known source of nuclear energy.

    My response to his question, “What we have to do???”

    “Probably nothing, other than admit that we are absolutely powerless.”


    Oliver K. Manuel

    PS – I was in San Jose recently to visit a former student there

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Oliver K. Manuel:

    I think I know why the “poltical” turbulance comes with the weather turbulence….

    It’s the sun….

    No, honest!

    What just happened to the solar spectrum when the sun went all sleepy? We had a UV crash. Just plunged.

    What happens when folks don’t get enough UV?

    Low vitamin D levels. And?….

    Seasonal Affective Disorder

    that includes in it’s symptoms:

    “Social withdrawal

    Unhappiness and irritability”

    Which, if a whole population were involved, would lead to what kind of mass behaviours? ….

    FWIW, the spouse has mild SAD and we treat it with a “Lizard Light” bought at the pet store for $14. It’s a CFL bulb balanced to give the UV level needed for lizards to not die on you. About 20 minutes a day is enough. (More than that from closer than about 3 feet gives a mild sunburn).

    So now picture a world of people who are NOT terribly transparent skined folks (my family on both sides have the redhead transparent skin gene…) who can get LOTS of vitamin D from simple facial sun exposure. Largely living indoors and under clothings (i.e. burka and turban / wrap) and getting just enough Vit D… Then the sun plunges into “UV Darkness”.

    What happens when all of, say, North Africa is “SAD” afflicted. Grumpy. Depressed. Irritable.

    So, IMHO, that’s why we have both kinds of “Turbulence” arriving together throughout history…

    My advice? Any Dictators in the world needs to start buying Lizard Lamps for their populations…


    “Other mood related symptoms are depressive behavior and/or seasonal affective disorders”

    So maybe all those protestors suddenly marching out in the sun and sitting-in all day long in the squares feel so good about what they are doing (finally getting that depression to leave) in part because they are just “getting out more”…

    (And maybe the tendency for Tin Pot Dictators to ban marches and tell folks to stay in their homes is “exactly wrong”… they ought to be asking everyone to spend all day outside while Fearless Leader asks them for “feedback” and “listens to their needs”… then they would feel better about him ;-)

  3. R. de Haan says:

    Thanks for posting your link Oliver.
    Very interesting.

    Thinking about your remark ‘What we have to do?’
    I would like to say ‘All that is humanly possible’.

    And that’s often more than we think.

    Just keep pushing your idea’s and continue to be engaged in discussions.

    As for the current struggle going on in Libya I am flabbergasted why we have not established a ‘No fly zone’ to prevent Gaddaffi from bombing his population and prevent the influx of hired guns, distribute medical support to the hospitals and secure the oil infrastructure.

    This goes for NATO and the EU of course.
    Never seen such a collection of clueless and useless tax money absorbing organizations in my life.

  4. R. de Haan says:

    As for turbulence:

    FAA turbulence categories:

    Light Chop. Slight, rapid, and somewhat rhythmic bumpiness without appreciable changes in altitude or attitude.

    Light Turbulence. Slight, erratic changes in altitude and/or attitude. Occupants may feel a slight strain against seatbelts. Unsecured objects may be displaced slightly. Food service may be conducted and little to no difficulty is encountered in walking.

    Moderate Chop. Rapid bumps or jolts without appreciable changes in aircraft altitude or attitude.

    Moderate Turbulence. Changes in altitude and/or attitude occur but the aircraft remains in positive control at all times. It usually causes variations in indicated airspeed.Occupants feel definite strain against seatbelts. Unsecured objects are dislodged. Food service and walking are difficult.

    Severe. Large, abrupt changes in altitude and/or attitude. Usually causes large variations in indicated airspeed. Aircraft may be momentarily out of control. Occupants are forced violently against seatbelts. Unsecured objects are tossed about. Food service and walking are impossible.

    Extreme. Aircraft is violently tossed about and is practically impossible to control. May cause structural damage.

  5. Ian W says:

    You may find NOAAs Aviation Weather Center useful see:




    I am willing to bet that someone is maintaining an archive.

    Many modern aircraft now carry automated weather reporting systems that report back to the weather services. PIREPS (Pilot Reports) are given for certain conditions usually when the conditions such as severe-turbulence were not forecast and the aircraft that would have avoided them flies through them. Remember a small aircraft pilot’s idea of severe turbulence may be a large aircraft’s light chop. ;-)

  6. R. de Haan says:

    Not entirely of topic:
    Last launch of Discovery

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. de Haan:

    Yeah. I decided to gamble that it would slip some more, possibly from the cold and crappy weather, and lost the gamble… So looks like it’s “the last one or nothing.”…

  8. David says:

    “Hang onto your hat, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!”

    Hum?, or as the night bus driver told Harry Potter, ” clinch your bottom, its going to be a bumpy ride.”

  9. David says:

    I suppose, in especially turbulent times, there is no reason one cannot do both.

  10. Another Ian says:

    Ian W

    “Remember a small aircraft pilot’s idea of severe turbulence may be a large aircraft’s light chop. ;-)

    And rough air to a power pilot is lift to a glider pilot

  11. Malaga View says:

    A guy called David Thomson has some turbulent ideas…..

    Super Storms
    The Terracycles evidence of super storms is convincing with just 5 basic observations.

    1. In order for the Earth to rapidly cool, heat must be removed from the Earth at a rapid rate.

    2. The ice sheets only occurred on half of Earth’s northern hemisphere

    3. Glacial sketches made by scientists show ice sheets spread from centralized locations.

    4. The Atlantic Conveyor extended all the way to the Labrador and Norwegian Seas during the time of abrupt climate change.

    5. The Greenland Ice Cores show a brief period of exceedingly high winds

    From these five basic observations we can apply known meteorological principles to see how a super storm can develop and recognize the clear warning signs and prepare ourselves for its effects.


    Super Storm Path
    September 21, 2010
    Fortunately, the ocean temperatures are not warm enough to cause a super storm. However, Hurricane Igor is projected to follow exactly in the path a super storm would take just before initiating the next severe sudden advance of ice.


  12. David says:

    E.M. forgive my over familiarity, but I am asking you to support the post I made at WUWT at this mark, David says: February 26, 2011 at 3:43 am. under the http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/25/post-normal-ravetz-rumpus/ post. It is a little long but it may be the best post I have made and your weight is likely to have more people actually read it. Us common folk can do little, but we can do our best. You appear to be a night owl like me, so it may still be in moderation,

    Thanks as always.

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, I commented a few days back. Hope it was what you were looking for.


    FWIW, looking at the turbulence today, we again see that the turbulence is high where the northern cold bubble / Rosby wave is over the west coast.

    I experienced it last night with the “blustery” aspect being very evident in how things were moving in the back yard / trees…

    IMHO, ‘squashed’ and “thinner” atmosphere means more turbulence and lower freeze levels; and the crashed UV from the sun is the cause.

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