Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Captain Rick : Yesterday was a hot day in Phoenix. Besides smashing a previous daily air temp record, it set a new record of 95 F for the warmest pool temp I have ever recorded. Pool water temp closely trails the average day and night temp. SRP, the power company, registered yesterday’s average temp at a near record of 102F. We have had some very hot nights lately, with temps only dipping to the upper 80s at dawn. I am confident that those elevated low temps are what created the new high pool temp record.

Phoenix pool temps have been making a slow, steady rise over the past couple decades. I attribute that to rapidly expanding concrete and heat absorbing materials that blanket the Phoenix Valley of the Sun which spans across 100 miles of Arizona desert with an exploding population of over 4 million.


117 F is shy of the all time high temp record of 122 F set June 26, 1990. I missed experiencing that monumental mark. Having moved to the valley in 1996, the hottest I have experienced is the fourth place record at 119 F set on June 29, 2013. It was ‘Dry Heat’, only 2% humidity, a truly unique and wonderful experience that I recorded in a previous Atridim News Journal post complete with a photo of my thermometer at 119 F: Arizona “Dry Heat”: Phoenix set 4th hottest all-time record: 119F (48C) at 2% humidity … Where is the hottest place on earth?

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Captain Rick

Captain Rick: Massive Mesquite trees were blown over by a 100 mph macroburst in Ashley Park, Chandler Arizona on July 13, 2014. These beautiful 17-year old Mesquite trees and the shade they provided during my daily morning walks are now history. I find it amazing…what ‘mother nature’ can destroy in a moment.


Click above image to view it in HDTV format on Captain Rick’s Flickr Photostream

This was the first macroburst I have ever witnessed. It is the opposite of a tornado. The wind rushes down a tunnel, rather than up. When the air aloft hits the ground, it rushes out in all directions at speeds that can reach over 100 miles per hour near the eye, as was apparent in this macroburst.

During the days after, I walked and bicycled many miles thru the neighborhood. For several days I heard the continual sound of chain saws and tree grinders. I have never seen so many trees downed, roofs and other structures damaged during my nearly two decades living in Arizona. From all of the damage I saw, I believe the above photo was taken extremely close to the eye of the macroburst.

Report from my Facebook page just after the storm:

Its been early March since we had a drop of rain in Gilbert…one of the longest dry spells I can remember.
We had our first monsoon storm blow in from the mountains to the east…with magnitude I have never experienced at my Arizona Oasis.
It brought some much needed rain…and lots of it. Part of my rear patio went under water as well as other areas of my oasis….
I measured 2.25” of rain in a pail and also in my pool, which is almost to the lower edge of the deck. That is a first during my 17 years at my Arizona Oasis.
It hailed for several minutes. I picked up one that measured almost 1/2”. That is a first during my 17 years at my Arizona Oasis.
The wind blew like I have never seen it blow…even during Hurricane Hugo which I experienced in North Carolina. I do not have a wind gage but I estimate that for a few minutes the wind blew at well over 50 mph…possibly over 100 mph. That is a first during my 17 years at my Arizona Oasis.
All is calm now and I am thankful for the much needed rain…but wow…did it all have to come at once with such vigor?

During my morning 5 mile walk and bicycle ride I toured most of the area within a half mile of my Oasis in all directions. I saw scores of trees blow over, some into houses creating roof damage. Some of the trees were huge…perhaps 50 feet tall or more. Some had their roots ripped right out of the ground. I could hear chain saws and tree grinders everywhere. From what I saw, the worst destruction happened within about a quarter mile in each direction…meaning my Oasis was the epicenter of what obviously was a microburst…first I ever experienced…and definitely the most violent weather I have ever experienced in my life, not only here in Arizona…but anywhere.
A microburst is the opposite of a tornado. The cold winds from above descend thru a tunnel and then spread rapidly outward along the ground creating tornado like winds…but in reverse. Microbursts have been measured at speeds of 175 mph+…rivaling tornadoes and dwarfing most hurricanes.
For about 2 minutes yesterday I saw the wind blow with massive rain and 1/2" hail coming down almost horizontal. There is no doubt in my mind that the wind was well over 100 mph. I have experienced 80 mph winds during Hurricane Hugo in North Carolina. Hugo was a ‘walk in the park’ compared to the microburst that hit my neighborhood yesterday. It took a couple hours to clean all of the leaves from my pool and yard. My skyline view from my patio has improved. A large tree that previously blocked the view of the International Space Station flying overhead, is mostly gone…thankfully not in my yard.

Today I extended my daily walk to 3 miles with Canon camera in hand. I got some awesome photos of massive trees that fell with roots pulled right out of the ground. I then hopped on my bicycle for an extra long 5 mile ride to tour all of the area to the east of me…also with camera. Scores of big trees down, some onto houses. Lots of tile roof damage. I captured a lot of photos. As I get time, the best of them will make it to my Flickr photostream in the full glory of Atridim WIDESCREEN…viewable full screen in 1080p on an HDTV.

All reports I have read and from the damage I have seen in the neighborhood…the recent Microburst was actually one of Arizona’s first Macrobursts…which rivals the destructive force of a tornado…except in reverse. The winds rush down the core tunnel and then outward across the surface at speeds up to 200 mph. Most of the downed trees have been cut up and removed. From what I could tell from my multi-mile walks and bike rides, the center of the macroburst occurred about 1/4 mile west of my house. There are still several gigantic roots structures ripped out of the ground remaining of large trees that all fell to the west. Several of the root structures on their side stand taller than me. It is an awesome sight. Looks like a massive hurricane went thru, but localized like a tornado. I captured some great photos that I will process to Atridim Widescreen for display on Flickr…when I get a chance.

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Captain Rick: An abundance of love echoed across Alberta Canada during the historic flooding in late June as people worked together to survive and recover. This 10 minute YouTube video captures photographic moments of those ‘love echoes’ with excellence.

Receding waters gave way to a mammoth cleanup of affected areas, aided by a spontaneous volunteer campaign in which many home owners were assisted by complete strangers.


I extend my appreciation to June of Tennessee for sharing this excellent video by Heather Rankin. I invited Heather to share her thoughts on this excellent video masterpiece (which has already been viewed by 50,000 on YouTube) in a comment below.

I extend special appreciation to Sandi of Calgary Alberta for contributing an eyewitness report to my breaking ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report on June 21, 2013: Historic Flooding in Alberta

2013 Alberta Flood Stats
Worst in Alberta’s history. Areas along the Bow, Elbow, Highwood, Red Deer, Sheep, Little Bow, and South Saskatchewan rivers and their tributaries were particularly affected.
A total of 27 local states of emergency were declared and 28 emergency operations centres were activated as water levels rose and numerous communities were placed under evacuation orders.
Four people were confirmed dead as a direct result of the flooding
Over 100,000 people were displaced throughout the region.
Some 2,200 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) troops were deployed to help in flooded areas.
Preliminary estimates suggest damage from the flood could be between C$3–5 billion.

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Captain Rick: June 29, 2013 was a ‘toasty day’ in Phoenix as the temp set the 4th highest ever recorded … 119F (48C). It was the warmest temp I have experienced since calling Arizona’s ‘Valley of the Sun’ home back in 1996.

At just 2% humidity, it actually was pleasant, especially in the shade. The main reason is because sweating is difficult when humidity is that low. The only way that temps can climb this high any where on earth is for the atmosphere to loose almost all humidity.

I enjoy Arizona “Dry Heat” much more than the humid heat I experienced in most other places … where the sweat flowed continually on a hot day when temps were ‘way down’ in the 90s F. I also enjoy Arizona “Dry Heat” much more than the wicked winter cold and tons of snow I have experienced in many other places in winter. I will always remember a winter day in Minnesota back in the 1970s when the temp dropped to a record low of –40F (–40C). The windows froze with ice from top to bottom. It took 3 weeks for the ice on the freeways to melt with salt. Most vehicles did not start. So, thinking back … if I am asked to rate Arizona’s “Dry Heat” on a scale of 10 … I give it a resounding 10.


I captured the above photo and edited it to record this and previous record high temps recorded in Phoenix.

Where is the hottest place on earth?

Many people think that the hottest place on earth is the Sahara desert in Africa. Not true. Hotter places exist in the deserts of the southwestern U.S.

After I posted the above photo on my Flickr photostream with a share to my Facebook page, I received a question from Marra Racz: “Hi Rick, what do you think of us in Lake Havasu:))?”

After a bit of research, I replied “Checking the records, I see that Lake Havasu holds the Arizona State record all time highest temp ever recorded … 128F (53C) set on June 29, 1994. That is just shy of the all time high of 134F (57C) for the US set in Death Valley, California on July 10, 1913, which is also the official world record for the hottest temp ever recorded.” I found an unofficial record in Libya of 138F (59C).

I asked Marra about her experience with the heat in Lake Havasu. She replied: "On July 1st 2001 I arrived to Lake Havasu City. The long trip from Los Angeles with all I have wore me out. The climate is cruel in summer time and summers are very long. There is no spring or autumn in Lake Havasu, just hot, hotter, hot like Hell days."

I try my best to report both sides of the story. Arizona’s “Dry Heat” is not for all. I hope Marra can find a way to ‘stay cool’ in Lake Havasu. I urge Marra to capitalize on enjoying those early morning hours … the hours I utilize for my daily 2 mile walk and 3 mile bicycle ride. They are the finest hours of my day.

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Captain Rick:



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Captain Rick: The Yarnell Hill Wildfire, ignited by a lightning strike, exploded with powerful winds that took the lives of 19 firefighters. This is the deadliest wildfire in America since 1933 and has claimed the worst loss of firefighters since 9/11.


I broke this story yesterday as it unfolded via an ‘Atridim Breaking News’ report via email:

Yarnell is located on AZ 89 between Wickenburg and Prescott, about 50 miles NW of Phoenix.

The Prescott Courier reports 18 firefighters have been killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire in the Town of Yarnell.

The fast-moving fire has burned 250 structures in the Town of Yarnell and grown to 2,000 acres, command center officials said Sunday night.

About 400 people live in Yarnell and several hundred reside in Peeples Valley, according to the latest census.

The fire has closed about 15 miles of State Route 89, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The fire which broke out Friday after a lightning strike about four miles from Yarnell, said Arizona State Forestry Division spokeswoman Carrie Dennett.

Two hundred firefighters are trying to gain an upper hand on the wildfire.

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Captain Rick: The record freeze that has gripped Arizona’s Valley of the Sun for the past 5 days is giving way to warmer temps.  It was the longest cold blast to hit the greater Phoenix area since 1978.

Having lived in the Valley since 1996, I can say with out a doubt, it was the longest, coldest streak I have witnessed here. The digital weather station at my Gilbert Oasis measured early morning lows of 27.9, 26.1, 26.2, 27.9, 30.2 (F) during the past 5 days. I have only witnessed one day colder…25.2 registered on January 15, 2007, part of a 2-day cold snap. This 5-day frigid blast far surpassed it. This was the first year my fountain froze solid. My pool water dropped to a record low of 39F, smashing the old record of 43F. I ran the pool pump all night for 5 days straight to keep the above ground plumbing from freezing, beating the old record of 2 days. I also insulated my water supply line. Unlike houses in cold climates, water supply lines in the Valley enter the house above ground, subjecting it to the rare event of freezing.


A desert freeze can be beautiful, but also very destructive to its plants. During my daily walk today, I was amazed at the extensive damage to the tender desert plants and trees. The fichus trees, lantana, bougainvillea, honeysuckle, bird of paradise, aloe, hibiscus and several other tender plants were severely damaged. It is the worst plant destruction I have witnessed here. I suspect I will have to prune many of my plants back to nearly nothing. I will probably loose some. Even the hardy oleanders got frost bitten badly, killing all of the flowers and buds that were in bloom. I suspect that the normal explosion of floral color and beauty in the Valley will be a bit delayed and diminished this spring.

On the bright side…temps closer to normal begin returning to the Valley of the Sun tomorrow.