Friday, October 19, 2007

Order out of chaos

NASA - Giant Waves Over Iowa

radar image

Oh, sure; we know that meterologists have found some order in the chaos of weather for ages, but this...this is wild.

Those giant waves—"undular bore waves"—were photographed Oct. 3rd flowing across the skies of Des Moines, Iowa. (Credit: KCCI-TV Des Moines and Iowa Environmental Mesonet SchoolNet8 Webcam.)

"Wow, that was a good one!" says atmospheric scientist Tim Coleman of the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) in Huntsville, Alabama. Coleman is an expert in atmospheric wave phenomena and he believes bores are more common and more important than previously thought.

But first, Iowa: "These waves were created by a cluster of thunderstorms approaching Des Moines from the west," he explains. "At the time, a layer of cold, stable air was sitting on top of Des Moines. The approaching storms disturbed this air, creating a ripple akin to what we see when we toss a stone into a pond."

Ripples in the sky?! Look in the lower-right hand corner of that radar image. Stunning. If you follow the link, there's a video that shows what it looks like in real life. It's slow to load, but worth it.

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