FRANKLIN’S GONE, WATCHING DEPRESSION #7

Middle and upper level winds hold keys to what effects us below.

Earlier it looked like Tropical Deporession 7 might not develop into a tropical storm, but at 11 AM today (Sunday) the National Hurricane Center says conditions are becoming more favorable. The upper wind chart (above) with the storms shows how complex the atmosphere is.

The science of meteorology has expanded our knowledge into many different realms. Benjamin Franklin learned that the weather doesn’t necessary move in the direction of surface winds. Through corresponence by mail, he learned that Philadelhia’s rains blowing from the northeast did not come from Boston because the rain didn’t commence in Boston until several hours later. His kite only taught him about low level wind, and of course electricity in a thunderstorm.

The first instrument for studying winds at different levels came even centuries before kites. It was the human eye! Those who observed the sky could discover how columns of smoke would shift direction as they rose in the sky, or by watching various cloud layers move in opposite directions.

Since the Industrial Revolution, hot air balloons and the advances in aviation with dirigibles and airplanes took us into the realm of winds above the earth. Travel was either enhanced or retarded, depending on whether there were tailwinds or headwinds. To forecast the weather, the cause and behavior of winds, both surface and aloft, requires a disciplined study of atmospheric science.

Sixty years ago, I discovered a new world of weather. First, I became a Weather Observer with the U.S. Air Force. Learning the sixteen main cloud types expanded my world from trees, plants, and people to the skies.
When I went to Intermediate Meteorology School at Oklahoma State University, I learned about the weather systems that control our weather. But the part of that course that impressed me most was climatology. We learned about the various climates around the world, the extremes of temperature, the monsoons and deserts, and the effect of oceans, terrain and mountains. and the water cycle on our environment.

The experience of being aware of our marvelous planet was not enough. I had to share it. Television came to Jacksonville the year I graduated from Robert E. Lee High School. Upon receiving my B.S. degree in meteorology in 1957 from Florida State University, I joined the U.S. Weather Bureau. Jacksonville’s municipal radio station allowed us to do weather broadcasts on WJAX-AM. I also enjoyed visiting local schools to explain weather. After 5 years at the Weather Bureau, I decided my future would expand to the homes where people watched their weather report on TV. That was in 1962 when I started my career at WJXT. At that time, I was the only full-time TV meterologist broadcasting in Jacksonville.

Boy, things have really changed since then!

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