November 18, 2015

Tropical Depression Attempts to Bribe Santa, Probably Not Successful

It's satellite images like this that spawn conspiracy theories about our ability to control the weather.

Weather exists as nature's feverish attempt to balance inequality in the world (so maybe Bernie controls the weather). Low pressure systems are so windy because air is rushing in from around it to fill the void. The intricate play between the warmer tropics and the colder poles creates jet streams that spawn storms and transfer enormous amounts of energy around the world. Hurricanes exist as a way to transfer heat from the tropics to the poles.

This feature, however, exists to let future Tropical Storm Rick bribe its way onto Santa's nice list. The cold front extending off of the impressive fall storm sweeping the U.S. and Canada this week is moving slow enough that it's turned into a conveyor belt of moisture, sending loads of evaporated paradise straight from the tropical Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Circle. That's why the rain has been so heavy with the line of storms, and why it's been so uncomfortably muggy ahead of its arrival.

What's even more impressive than the river of moisture itself is the incredibly sharp cutoff on the back edge. In just a couple of miles, the atmosphere in the mid-levels goes from saturated to bone dry. You don't see that too often on a large scale like this.
Tropical Depression Twenty-One-E—that just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?—is swirling far off the western coast of Mexico tonight, and it's expected to become a marginal tropical storm before petering out this weekend or early next week. It's struggling right now, but it might survive for a little while longer. It shouldn't pose any threat to land.

[Satellite Image: NOAA | Hurricane Map: Author]
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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.


  1. Who needs Gawker? (Hope you don't have to start selling Amway)

  2. Huzza! He's back and we love it!

  3. It's great to have Dennis back. Just need to register my name somewhere.

  4. Keep 'em coming, you're on my daily view list!