You can also view a slide show of Dr. Cotton's trip here.
To view Dr. Cotton's other Journals, Click here
Flight to Fort Luaderdale went well. All my stuff got there in fine shape including my kayak. I arrived at the Condo in Naples about 7PM. I took a sweaty walk about 4mi roundtrip to the gulf beach. It took me down 5th ave which has a lot of upscale shops and restaurants
I slept through my watch alarm. Having trouble getting up at 0500 EDT which is 0300 MDT. I took a short sweaty jog and had breakfast and then decided to try AOL forecasting links. It was 0730 and must have been a busy time on server because I couldn't download any of RAMS output. I'll try 0500 tomorrow when actual operations are planned. I tried in afternoon and it worked just fine.
I went over to the Nepals airport and talked to the FBO's about renting a plane to Key West. One plane had no overnight rentals(I want to go over in morning and return the next morning to avoid Cbs). One place had a two-week backlog. The other had only a Piper Arrow which cost $100/hr and I'd need morecheckout time. Finally I found a third place with a Cessna 150 at $69/hr with low use level. I arranged for a check ride at 1800h.
After spending $84 on groceries, I set up my kayak and paddled it up the Gordon river which is right behind the condo. Going up river use-level is low and it curves along through the mangroves. I saw egrits and some kind of white-headed hawk or falcon, fish jumping, and some nice houses, but not many. It was so darn hot and humid, that I was soaked when I got back. But it will be a convenient place to paddle.
At 1600h I had a check-out flight in a C-150. The owner of the FOB(Rex) gave me ground instruction and flight instruction. He was very good and gave me special instruction in procedures for operating in the Keys and in controlled airports in the region including Naples. We shot some landings down at Marco Island, and a couple of landings at Naples. I didn't have any trouble getting used to the plane and was glad to get spun-up in operating in the region. He seemed to know just what I needed for instruction.
I got up this morning and found out I made a major boo boo. I had put my kayak under cover of a ramp to the floating docks. I thought at the time that the tide would not rise enough to let the ramp down on the kayak beneath-wrong! So when the tide went down enough I pulled it out and found two ribs were broken. So, riding into the NPOL site we stopped at Everglades City where I picked up some epoxy and duct tape and made 'field' repairs. I also took a sweaty jog down to the Gulf coast and back before going out to the radar.
The radar is located about 15' from a canoe trail into the mangrove swamps. It feels really hot and it is only 11AM! It must be in mid-80's with dewpoints about 78. Ugh! I made another fopaw in that I brought out my computer without its docking base and found I cannot connect into the network without the base.
1750 - cells east of Miami producing anvil advecting towards NPOL.
Some towering cu 155@29nmi that may be possible candidates later.
Notes on soundings:
Tampa, Key West and Miami do 18Z soundings for period of experiment; special request one day in advance 12, 18, 21Z;
Parcel: 9,12,15,18,21 soundings on intensive days. Decision by Mace
My field repairs on my kayak worked and I took an hour paddle up the canals after I did my forecast. Some stretches are like a jungle with overhanging trees and no houses other parts have houses and yards along the way. It is very steamy and as I got further back in the canal, the houses got lower class, and so did the boats.
Today Hans is bring over the P-3 and that may be it except that the Citation may join us.I may go to Key West tomorrow and fly in the P-3.
1744 - some cells near Ft Lauderdale, one in interior east of center along Tamiami trail and a N-S line just NE of NPOL . Some other cells NW of NPOL and also east of Ft Meyers.
1809 - Cells NW of NPOL are the biggest topping out at 45-50K'.
1818 - For some reason surface winds are backing to 290@15kts, which
RAMS didn't pick that up.
My intention was to fly the C-150 down to Key West and then fly in the P-3. But, after untieing the C-150 and getting it started, I couldn't figure out how to set in waypoints on the GPS. Rex had gone over it with me, but with everything else to get familiar with, I couldn't get it set. Here I was idling the engine and fiddling away with the GPS just before sunrise, so I didn't have a lot of light to work with. Those darn GPSs are all different, and so I never could work it right. I had VOR but they don't give range and since I was flying to and returning to controlled airports plus having to deal with instructions from the Naval Air Station on Boca Chica, I felt pretty accurate position fixes were necessary. So, I bagged it as by the time people came in to the FBO(it was 0630), I wouldn't have been able to get on the P-3 since doors closed at 10:30 and I was looking at a 1.5h flight plus getting from Key West Airport to the Naval base. As a result I made an on the spot decision to take the local commercial carrier, CAPE AIR. I caught the 0825 flight and left word with Han's answering machine my arrival time. The plane is a piston-driven 8 passenger Cessna 402, and we climbed to 7000'. I chatted with the pilot who looked older than me and morfe like an old-time sailor than a pilot with his grey beard. Arrival was 0915 and the terminal they flew out of was a small shack. I then looked for Jerry Harrington who was supposed to pick me up. No Jerry, so I walked over to the main terminal-no Jerry. Well, maybe he didn't get the word from Hans so I walked over to the FBO. No Jerry. As I walked back to the main terminal I saw this long-haired guy with a big dude walking in the parking lot. He didn't get my e-mail from the day before or the changed plans from Hans. They were about to leave when I lucked out in finding them. He was looking in the wrong place for CAPE AIR and had I flown myself we probably wouldn't have connected at all.
As it turned own, there were showers with lightning all around Key West and especially over the Keys to the north so it was probably good that I didn't fly myself. I might have had to turn back anyway.
At 1415 I met with Hans and Sue, got suited up and found a pair of heavy
duty shoes that fit, and got on the plane in the rain at 10:30 EDT.
After holding at runway we got off at 1515 and now are flying over S
Fla somewhere while technicians are trying to fix ELDORA.
1615 - They rebooted Eldora and it is now up and running. We're headed
to a Cb line that was given to us by Zipser.
1737 - tops to-30's. Just a bunch of clouds at various levels looking
out the window.
1730 - We're still plowing through clear air with thick cirrus anvil
above. Great views of the southern Everglades and Whitewater bay. But
after touring this same area for several hours-boring!
1939 - First evidence of a brightband.
1707Z - I caught the CAPE AIR flight after taking a sweaty jog with Jerry and having breakfast with him. The only incident was after landing I couldn't find the key to the condo and Zipser had turned in his key on a slot at the office. After calling for help a workman was found who could get into the office and retrieve Ed's key. I then found I had left the key in a pair of pants I had left behind.
The P-3 is now ferrying over and the ER-2, and PROTEUS are also up. Convection is widely spaced with some cells near Miami, some W of Fort Lauderdale, and the biggest cells east of Fort Meyers where we have directed the P-3.
1754 - Mostly scattered towering cu over the center of Peninsula SW of NPOL. More Cbs and towering cu to east of Ft Meyers. Certainly not an active day so far.
1820 - Continued scattered towering cu still in area. Some 40-42km to the east of NPOL; some 80km to N and east of Fort Meyers where P-3 is flying.
There is to be a TRMM overpass and plans are to get as much insitu and lidar/radar data as possible.
1812 - Trying to get the P-3 working a line 40km to our east and aligned
NNE to SSW west.
Today was a down day for all aircraft. I think the crews needed a break as the flights are very long. I took advantage of it to sleep in until 630 and then to do my laundry. I find it hard to be enthusiastic about doing anything outside when it is so hot and humid. The weather saps my energy like a sponge. Finally I got myself to load up the kayak and drive south along the gulf coast in Naples where I found a beach access. My thinking was that it should be more comfortable in the open water rather than in any of the canals and backwaters where breezes are absent. So, I paddled out into the Gulf and headed south to Keewaydin Island. It is a long and narrow island with sandy beaches and palms, palmetto, and pine trees back from the beach. There is a little development on the north end but not much since there is only private ferry access, and as far as I can tell no bridges-great. The island heads south almost to Marco Island(a GOD awful, snooty, high-rise community). Part of the Island and east of it is Rookery Bay Aqauatic Preserve. A narrow channel that is part of the Intracoastal Waterway is on the east side of the island. I'll have to paddle along it on a day off.
Anyway I paddled south along it and watched some frigate birds gliding overhead and some pelicans skimming the waves near me. About mid island I went on shore to pee and found lots of shells along the beach. It was fairly comfortable heading south as I was paddling into the light southerly winds. However, heading back north, my paddle speed about matched the light winds and I began to perspire. I was drenched from sweat and felt extremely hot. I'd stop paddling every so often to take a drink, but it was darn uncomfortable. On the way south I encountered a kayaker in an open kayak heading north and talked to him briefly. It looked like he might have over-nighted to the south as he had a large dry bag behind him. After 2 hours or so, I returned to the car beaching in the light surf without a problem.
I returned to the condo and took a brief swim in the pool and after lunch took a siesta. It is now near 6PM and I am contemplating going for a run on the beach but it still must be 88 with a 78 dewpoint. Hard for me to do anything!
At about 7PM I finally committed to a run. I ran back streets to the gulf and ran the beach to Naples pier and then back. I sure get disgustingly sweaty.
I drove out to the radar site with my kayak on top and paddled down the canal near the radar about 4miles and then back. I saw a couple of gators, and a few birds but less than I expected. Bugs weren't a problem as I paddled fast enough that they couldn't keep up with me. It was fun and only very hot at the last end, when the sun was high and winds were still not much and what they were, were on my back.
1702 - The P-3 should be off about now. The convection is starting
off rather slowly. An east coast line of cells is moving westward, none
very large. The deepest cells are inland from Ft. Meyers, where they
are topping out around 30K'. Another weak cluster of cells in at the
NPOL 30degree radial and 60km range.
1708Z - Made my forecasts, and then ran to Naples beach and to the Naples pier and back this morning. Then after breakfast I drove to Everglades National Park at Everglades City and paddled across the bay and attempted to circumnavigate Sandfly Island. But, I never found the return pass and in fact was almost out to the Gulf when a ranger came by in a stinkpot and I flagged him down and asked him where the turnoff was. He indicated I had passed it. I had been working against the current all the way out so it was slow going. Going with the current I still never saw the turn off so returned the way I came. I saw a few birds(snowy Egrits) and one bottlenosed dolphin just at the beginning in the bay. I returned after over 2 hours of hard paddling without a break drenched in sweat as usual. I hosed down the boat and me too!
Now it is back to the radar, which is only 5 miles away from the Park.
1739 - Some scattered small cells moving with the east coast seabreeze
front NW of Miami and near lake O. Otherwise nothing on radar yet. We
still have an hour until the P-3 takes off.
Today is a down day. So, I took a jog along Naples beach and then drove to North Naples to Delnore-Wiggins Pass State Park and paddled my kayak along the Gulf coast and also in a pass and followed a short canoe route. I saw more birds today than I have so far. Pelicans just covering the trees, egrits, and some kind of sea hawk. I returned sweaty as usual. I plan to work on our NSF proposal this afternoon. I had dinner and beers with Starr and Sassen. The is the first time I have gone out to eat so far. The restaurant is open and overlooks the Gordon river looking toward the north side of the island in the river where my condo is located.
Today is an early flight day with the estimated TO time for P-3 of 10:30AM. I only had time to take a sweaty jog and got to the radar by 0915.
1343 - Some showers over the central Keys and just running off our radar to the west of Naples. Some showers out of our range off Andros Island in the Straits. I haven't been in touch with Sue or Hans yet to determine what they are up to.
Since the P-3 was taking off later than I expected I took a drive along a couple of dirt roads heading north from the Tamiami trail to our east. I saw some large lilly-family flowers in about 3-4" of swamp water and waded out to take pictures of them. Driving along the Turner river I saw a couple of gators and found some flowers that looked like orchids to me. I took pictures of all of them.
1610 - The P-3 is airborne and we directed them to work cells in the area of Marathon Key. The only other action is in Miami area associated with the east coast seabreeze.
1648 - P-3 is still working cells near Marathon and they are topping
out near 50K'.
The P-3 is not flying today. I expect there will be a big push to get in flights on the remaining three days.
I jogged to Nepals beach and paddled my kayak in Nepals bay before breakfast. It is about 3 miles long and 1.5 to 2 miles wide. I had one heart-stopping experience when I decided to head down the large waves from a passing stinkpot instead of into them. This would have been fine except it got me close to the concrete sea wall by one of those ritzy places and I found my self in waves reflected off the wall plus direct waves on my back so I had my hands full staying upright. I used whitewater kayakers bracing maneuvers.
I think RAMS did pretty well today. Precip was definitely concentrated north of NPOL to Fort Meyers. I may have tuned down rainfall accumulations too much as the amounts must have been approaching and inch or more in the showers I drove in. Why did it do better today than yesterday?
I took a jog and then called Hans this morning. He decided to scratch today since he wouldn't have any high-altitude plane support and felt he had enough data in these storms with the P-3 alone. I would have preferred to work today and leave early, but that won't work.
So I decided to go up to Sanibel Island. It has been about 30 years since we were there last. I drove the scenic route up which took me through a series of beach towns like Fort Meyers Beach and causeways and bridges too numerous to count. I saw a kayaker ahead of me near Fort Meyers beach pull off to paddle near a number of sandy keys near Ft Meyers beach. In retrospect I wish I had followed his example. By the time I got to the north end of Sanibel Island it was pushing 10:30 and the sun was high enough for me to lose interest in paddling out there with the sun beating down on my head. So, I took the tourist walks along the drive in Ding Darling National Wildlife Reserve. I had been there before but it was all different now. One of the longest walking trails was closed for repaving! It wasn't paved back then and why it had to be paved is beyond me. I enjoyed one of the boardwalk trails and saw many egrits and pelicans again. I then drove out to Captiva Island. I think there was no road access over there back in the 70's. I think they should have left it that way. The entire island is developed but thankfully not with highrises. I had asked the women at the visitor center about Captiva and how I remember it as being a virgin island. Boy, did I set her off. She said she had been marching out there with signs trying to stop development there. She really got into it and I certainly could agree with her.
I never did put my kayak in the water there and the sun was just too high by that time for me to get my energy level up enough to paddle in the heat. On the way over my portable kayak rack made such noises in the wind, that I decided it was time to take it apart and bag it since I probably wouldn't have much time to use it the last two days which would surely be flight days. So I found a shady spot at the visitors center and took it apart. It was probably a good thing since the larger of the repaired broken ribs fell apart in my hand so it wasn't providing any support at all. If I had gotten in some heavy waves I might have had a problem. By the time I had finished packing it up I was soaked in sweat again. It is hard for me to figure out why so many people want to live down here year-around. Winters are fine, but the summers are just too darn hot and humid to be any fun at all.
So I headed back to the condo taking the fast route along Highway 41. Highway 41 between Naples and Ft Meyers is just one strip mall as it is I'm sure further north as well. I guess I should be thankfull all these people are not living in Colorado. We have enough of them already!
1526 - I did my morning jog down to the beach again and after breakfast decided to drive along a Loop Road in Big Cypress National Monument. It is about 10 miles past the turnoff to the radar. The road is gravel and in many spots it has been repaired with crushed coral rock with chunks the size of a fist. I was a little worried about getting a flat tire. Here I was 10 to 15 miles off the main road and only saw one truck after driving in 20 miles at least. At first I drove for about 5 miles along a straight section that I couldn't see much but mangrove trees and bushed. Then I encountered a section where a river crossed under the road. The water was flowing swiftly and on both sides of the road there were large cypress trees. It is the prettiest spot I've seen in Florida. As I drove along, I saw three alligators along the road. They really moved fast when they saw or heard my car! Then I saw a deer. After that I saw three raccoons, three pigs, and a snake. I also some numerous birds, some reddish in color. I think it would be a good road to go birding.
1545 - My forecast for today was for a late start in convection and so far it looks like it will validate. I expect we will be here until after dark.
1656 - Some cells over the Gulf to the SW of Ft Meyers.
Jogged Napals beach and then did laundry and washed dishes and cleaned up the condo before I checked out. I plan to find something in Fort Lauderdale tonight and try to catch the 0840 flight.
1438 - After seeing things very active over the straits associated
with the easterly wave, the convection has died out all together. Not
exactly the RAMS scenario which had convection going early over the
peninsula and behind the wave, everything shutting down by mid-afternoon.
1500 - Things are sure quiet now. Every time it is disturbed, RAMS
does poorly. The ETA analysis down here just is not doing well.
End of project for me--Bill