My two year contract at the weather station on Kwajalein is coming to a close (already?! where did the time go?). While I had the opportunity to renew it, I decided for various reasons to pursue other opportunities. I have loved my time here and there are some people and some things I will miss, but further challenges and interesting weather are calling me.
I just accepted an offer to work as a meteorologist for MetService, New Zealand’s National Weather Service. I am beyond excited to say I will be moving to Wellington, New Zealand this August! The position sounds great, and I look forward to learning more about Southern Hemisphere and New Zealand weather and exploring this beautiful country.
The above photo is the famous Kwaj signpost by the airport, showing the direction and approximate distance in miles to various places around the world. Wellington has been added to the signpost sometime since I first got here, and now I smile whenever I notice it as I pass by–“only” about 2,400 miles further south!
The next few months will bring a lot of traveling for me, as I’ll also soon be flying back to Oklahoma to go storm chasing and visit friends for a few weeks across the Plains. I plan on updating this blog with my latest storm chase adventures this May; hopefully there will be a lot to write about and post photos of! I am going to be chasing with a tablet for the first time; every time I chase I seem to change something up. This year I will have an iPad, and between the built-in GPS, data connection, and various apps, I should be able to get the information I want without having a bulky laptop and cords everywhere. One of my chasing buddies, Dean (coming back from Australia with a couple of his friends) will have the full laptop setup though, so we’ll have double the data!
Anyway, I also plan on updating this (mainly) weather blog more often once I no longer have to dial up to use the Internet at home (really looking forward to high speed Internet again!). I may even start a separate New Zealand blog soon, too.
Here on an island with dial-up Internet at home and no cell phone service it can be hard to feel connected with the rest of the world sometimes.
However, even in an area with some of the least interesting (but perhaps most pleasant) weather in the world, you can still find global atmospheric connections.
Yesterday Kwajalein received 4.17 inches of rain. That’s not too unusual, but it’s still a pretty rainy day. The Christmas tree lightning and ceremony had to be postponed for a couple of days.
Meanwhile, my parents in the Pacific Northwest tell me that parts of the West Coast have been receiving good amounts of rain and snow due to “atmospheric rivers”. A while back I wrote a post on rivers of moisture, specifically the Pineapple Express (transporting atmospheric moisture from the tropical Pacific to the West Coast of the US) and the Rum Runner (tropical Atlantic to the UK and western Europe).
The following map (click to enlarge; from this precipitable water loop) shows the next moisture plume headed for the West Coast (green to yellow shading), and as you can see, most of that moisture can be traced back to Hawaii and points southwest of there. Kwajalein lies at about 8N, 167E, which on this map is in the middle of an orange band of juicy atmospheric moisture. Most of our moisture comes from the east and goes towards the west as we’re in the tropics, but it’s kind of cool for me to think that the moisture from all of our rain yesterday had pretty much the same source as the moisture headed towards my family.
This MTSAT infrared satellite image shows the picture in a different way, with a band of clouds marching westward through the tropics and a band of clouds streaming northeastward from the tropics through Hawaii and on to the West Coast. This is one of many conveyor belts through the atmosphere that works to balance out an aspect of weather, in this case transferring warm, moist air from the tropics towards the poles!
My Dad flies in to Oklahoma City tomorrow afternoon, and we begin the three day drive back to Washington early Monday morning.
I don’t know how to say goodbye to friends here; I prefer to think of it as a “see you later” or “talk to you soon”, as I’ll still be in touch. It’s hard, as even though I look forward to spending time with family and friends in the Northwest over the next few weeks and then moving on to Kwajalein in mid-July, I have spent the last several years of my life in Norman.
I have made many friends here, the best of which have been by me through some great and some not-so-great times.
I have had so many amazing experiences since coming to Norman, and have learned a lot about meteorology. When I first came to Norman in 2005, I knew nothing about storms and not much about the weather. Since then, I have become an experienced storm chaser and have witnessed a couple dozen tornadoes, baseball-sized hail, intense storms, blizzards, and ice storms.
Before I came to Oklahoma, I had never been on a plane and had never been outside the Pacific Northwest. Since then, I have traveled to over half of the 50 states, have gone overseas, and have seen a space shuttle launch (perhaps unrelated to coming here, but you never know). You never know what experiences and opportunities may be waiting around the corner.
I always wanted to go to Oklahoma when I was a kid, and not necessarily for the weather. The musical Oklahoma! was one of the first movies I saw, and while you may laugh, somehow I became quite interested in the state. When I was about five or six, I asked my Mom for maps of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City (I still have them).
Norman, Oklahoma, and the Great Plains: I will miss you, but I will come back to visit in the not-too-distant future. Keep being great.
Friends in the Norman area: I will miss you very much, but we will keep in touch and may we be brought together again soon! All the best to all of you.
This week’s post in the global weather and climate series features Kwajalein Island, part of the Kwajalein Atoll of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (click for a Yahoo! maps link).
You may know by now that I recently accepted a job offer to work as a forecaster on Kwaj, as the locals call it. I’ll write a lot more about the island later, of course (see my new Kwaj blog here), but I thought I’d do a feature post on Kwaj before I even get there.
The Kwaj Lodge, for short-term housing but typical of housing on the island. From Wikipedia
Map showing the location of Kwajalein Atoll, from Wikipedia
Kwajalein Island is a small island on the southern end of the Kwajalein Atoll. An atoll is a series of islands on a coral reef that surrounds a lagoon. Again, I’ll write more on all of this later.
Kwajalein Atoll is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, although Kwajalein Island is a U.S. Army base so there really are no locals on this island. The Marshall Islands are way out in the Pacific, and Kwajalein is just north of the equator and just west of the International Date Line.
Kwajalein has a long history, but in short, the Marshall Islands are Micronesian and were taken over by the Japanese some time in the early 1900s. The U.S. fought over (and won) Kwajalein during World War II, and today the island is an army missile testing site (from what I understand the island is sort-of “rented” out to the U.S., although there is much more to it than that).
A few more facts about Kwajalein (weather data from the RTS Weather Station, where I’ll be working):
- Time zone: UTC + 12
- Elevation: near sea level
- Climate zone: Tropical marine
- Average high temperature: 87 °F (30 °C)
- Average low temperature: 78 °F (25 °C)
- Average annual high/low temperature range: 86 to 87 °F (30 to 31 °C) / 78 °F (25 to 26 °C)
- Record high temperature: 97 °F (36 °C)
- Record low temperature: 68 °F (20 °C)
- Average annual rainfall: 80 inches (2,030 mm)
Weather: As you can tell by the statistics, Kwajalein does not have much of a temperature range; the island is typically warm and humid, and I hear there are two seasons: warm and wet, and warm and windy (trade winds).
I look forward to learning a lot more about the tropical weather of Kwajalein before and during my time there. I do know that the island is too close to the equator to get strong typhoons (tropical cyclones), although they may occasionally get sideswiped by weaker cyclones.
As to the weather this week…I’ll guess that highs will be around 86 °F and there may be a chance of thunderstorms! (Check the forecast…yep, that’s about right! Though I know there will be more to my job than just that… 🙂 )
For weather maps and information on current and forecast Kwajalein weather, see the RTS Weather Station, Weather Underground and Weather Online UK (global maps and models).
Here’s a Wikipedia link for Kwajalein Atoll, and here’s a Wikipedia link for the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Next Tuesday I plan to take a look at the climate and weather in another part of the globe, hopefully just after witnessing a space shuttle launch! As always, if you have any suggestions for future cities, please leave a comment!
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I am very pleased to announce that I have accepted a job offer to work as a meteorologist on Kwajalein Island!
Kwajalein Island is an island in the Kwajalein Atoll, which is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The Marshall Islands are a large group of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the equator.
Kwajalein is a pretty small island, at only about 3 miles long and half a mile wide. There are about 1,200 people who live on the island, all working under the U.S. government.
My job will be a forecast position with a private weather company that has a contract there with the U.S. Army. I think the job sounds very interesting and exciting, and I could gain some great experience while on the tropical island.
I’m sure you must have a lot of questions, including how am I ever going to do without storm chasing. While I will miss storm chasing, I believe that I can give it up for now as the ocean is my first love and this is a wonderful and unique opportunity. I will be able to learn all about tropical weather firsthand, as well as tropical plant and animal life both on the islands and in the sea.
I will certainly attempt to keep up with this blog, continuing to post primarily on weather and storm events, but as I will not be storm chasing or living in the U.S. for the next couple of years, I expect my number of posts will decrease. I do thank you for coming to read this blog, and I hope that I can continue to deliver interesting weather posts.
I will be starting a new blog, though, and that is where I will likely put most of my blogging energy while I go through this island adventure. Sometimes there will be crossover posts, too.
Here is the link to my new blog: http://www.greenskychaser.com/kwajalein