You might have noticed my blog decreased in frequency a bit during the past week and there were some issues with the graphics.
The reason?...I have been in Beijing the last ten days giving a short-course on weather systems and forecasting technology to forecasters from throughout China. My colleague in this adventure was Brad Colman, head of the Seattle Office of the National Weather Service. I was really impressed with my Chinese colleagues--they want to build a first-class weather infrastructure in their country and seem to have access to the resources to do so. And they are gracious, kind hosts.
But one thing I found very frustrating was the difficulty of controlling a blog from China. The GREAT FIREWALL does not like Blogger and disconnected when I tried to access it. Using friends in the U.S. or applying VPN or proxy-server approaches were only partially successful. Anyway, I am back in the U.S. now....so I can work again. But the restrain on communication via the FIREWALL really makes a lot of communication difficult in China.
Coming home I experienced the impact of an amazingly strong Pacific jet stream. Here is a short-term forecast of wind speed (knots) at jet stream level (300 mb--roughly 32,000 ft) while I was crossing the big ocean.
A very strong jet stream over the western Pacific! So strong that the aircraft did not follow the normal great circle route or anything like it....we headed straight across the ocean....a far longer distance. I was amazed to follow the trip diagnostics on the screen in front of me...at some points the tailwind approached 190 mph and the speed relative to the earth's surface was nearly 800 mph!! Even going a long route we got in roughly an hour early (about 10.5 hours from Beijing to San Francisco). Our flight even passed just south of the damaged reactors in Japan.
The ride was quite bumpy at points, since we were hanging so close to the jet stream (the large changes in wind speed in the vertical can cause wind shear that breaks into turbulence).
And the airline food on United was some of the worst I have ever eaten! The snack was a "cup of soup" they poured hot water into. And that was the highlight of their cuisine in economy class! Most meteorologists can not afford business class.