How a cloud can stop a launch

We have liftoff! Those three words are music to NASA ears as Artemis has faced a number of delays over the past several weeks. I think we can all understand mechanical concerns, high winds, thunderstorms and hurricanes as launch-blockers. What I didn’t realize until yesterday is that one good healthy cumulus cloud can stop a rocket launch in its tracks! A cumulus cloud? Those puffy, fair-weather innocent-looking clouds against a beautiful blue sky? The kind that don’t even produce rain? Yep. Those clouds.

Yesterday’s crazy hazy sky

Yesterday in the early morning hours, a lumber yard on the northeast side of town went ablaze calling in more than a hundred firefighters! Our story on that massive fire is here. A light wind from the northeast sent roiling smoke across downtown skies resulting in, if nothing else, a spectacular smoky sunrise as you can see in my cover shot above! But for most of the morning the skies looked more like a really bad dose of Saharan dust! Here’s a morning shot from yesterday’s smoke-filled sky:

Get your head in the clouds!

I have blogged before about the Cloud Appreciation Society, the society for people who love the sky, which offers daily cloud pics and other cloud-loving memorabilia to its members (join for as little as $37 a year). I was gifted my membership after speaking to a senior group in Brenham a few years back. Honestly, it’s a nice way to start each day with a fabulous cloud pic submitted from one of its tens of thousands of members.

A 1997 hurricane season?

Last week, NBC/MSNBC meteorologist Bill Karins posted a trivia tweet noting that the last time we had an August with no named tropical storms was 1997! Now that our models can actually get to the end of the month, it’s worth noting that we may, indeed, get to September before a named tropical storm or hurricane shows up in the Atlantic basin. Saying that, the National Hurricane Center slapped a 20% chance for development on a spot in the Atlantic: