Monthly Archives: August 2012

Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire, as seen on Slashdot

The good folks from Slashdot interviewed some of the makers at the 2012 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire; here’s their video.


Hurricane Isaac flood maps and flooding predictions

Hurricane Isaac brought with it high winds and a substantial amount of rain, and both of those combined has led to a lot of flooding. Here are some maps I've collected while the storm is still underway. You should know that for each of them I'll also give a link to the underlying mapping source so that you can get current information.

If you are in the affected area and need details about flooded roads or the risk of dams or levees bursting or anything else, do not trust this weblog for current information; seek out official and up to date sources.

Most of the maps are dated August 30, 2012, unless otherwise noted.


A good source for maps of observed precipitation is, specifically the AHPS (Advanced Hydrometeorological Prediction Service). Here's a 7 day observed rainfall for Louisiana from that service, showing some areas with upwards of 20 inches of observed rainfall.

Predicted rainfall

A good source for rainfall predictions running out to the next 5 days (120 hours) is the Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF). These models are updated several times a day and give rainfall estimates over the entire country. (Your rainfall will differ.) This is the run from Thursday, August 30, 2012, showing a predicted 5 day course for the remnants of Isaac to dump rain up the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.

P120i00Predicted flooding

The National Weather Serivce Watch, Warning, Advisory Display shows this map with areas in pale green with warnings of potential floods, darker green (Arkansas) with current flood conditions, and parts of Louisiana and Mississippi with flash flood warnings. The accompanying text for some forecasts note that because of the dry and drought conditions the ground will be hard, and thus less able to absorb moisture leading to heavy runoff and flooding.

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River gauges, current

Many rivers have flood gauges which measure and report current flood status. This is a map from's River Observations page showing the whole nation, with flooding marked in color. You can zoom in to individual observations as well.

Here's a zoom of the New Orleans area for the same data. Please note that the gauges are only on rivers, and will not show flash flood areas, levee breaches, or other places where water is not usually found.

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Satellite imagery

I'll be on the lookout for satellite photos that show flooding; those usually don't appear until after the storm has cleared, because any imagery sensitive to water will pick up the clouds first.  Here's a NASA Aqua/MODIS image, pulled from their Rapid Response Imagery datasets.

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Quantified Self show at the Gallery Project

From the news release:

The Gallery Project presents Quantified Self, a multimedia exhibit in which 34 local, regional, and national artists examine how individuals collect and often project information about themselves and others in the digital world. Artists examine the quantified self from two unique perspectives: one, how information about individuals is collected, stored, processed, and used by these individuals and communicated to others; and two how entities collect information about individuals and groups for commercial and other purposes. Examples are self-projections in cyber space, self-monitoring of health and other behaviors, obsessive collecting of self-defining artifacts, and visualizing personal and group data.

Image: Cece — You're It by Peter Adamczyk.

The gallery opened today, August 30, 2012; the reception is on the evening of August 31, 2012, and I'll probably miss it. Artists that I recognized included Edward Tufte who had three very lovely prints from one of his books on display, and Mark EJ Newman who had some remarkably presented cartograms

Visit them at 215 S. Fourth Ave in downtown Ann Arbor, across from Eastern Accents (and thus handy to visit after A2B3).

Hurricane season, 2012

Each year is a new hurricane season, and each year the internet is a little different. Here's some things that are new that I've noticed.

Every single meteorologist is on Twitter (or close enough), and there's an ample supply of both local weather reporting and national weather forecasting to satisfy anyone's need to look at weather models for hurricanes to come. The word of the year is "spaghetti model", illustrated below, showing a whole series of separate tracks from different atmospheric models to predict a set of possible futures for the storm.

Another novel thing this year is the appearance of the hurricane app for your smart phone or iPad. Hurricane HD for your iPad focuses solely on hurricane tracking, giving you alerts and forecasts and graphical updates as conditions change. (I haven't used it, but the screen shots look good and straightforward). The Red Cross Hurricane App includes “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends via social media outlets that they are out of harm’s way. Both have access to NOAA Weather Radio, which is one of the typical channels found on any of the scanner apps that are available.

If you are interested in listening to hurricane radio traffic, one good source is Radio Reference. In addition to listening to police scanners and fire service radios, you can also tune into the National Hurricane Center SKYWARN network and hear weather and condition reports directly from amateur radio operators in the field.

One thing that hasn't changed is the excellent hurricane coverage from Weather Underground, with the weblog of Dr. Jeff Masters a clear and precise account as conditions change. The comment board on this blog is notable for being well behaved and well informed, a rarity in this day and age. Weather Underground was recently purchased by There's no visible changes yet to hurricane information, but a few more TWC meteorologists are blogging on the wunderground site.

Here in Michigan, the worst we can expect from a hurricane is flooding from the far-north remnants of a storm. Others will not be so lucky. Do your best to be prepared.

No comments, thanks

For the most part, I don't comment on newspaper web sites any more; it's generally more effective to engage by writing the same message directly to the reporter or to the editor.

In some cases, good results can also be had by sending messages directly to the parties involved in the story, and cc'ing (or bcc'ing) the reporter in question.


When the boys bring home trout from the trout farm, there’s no question that it’s trout for dinner.

The recipe for cooking the trout was simple: foil, lemon, and basil. It would have done well with a bit of olive oil or butter in the foil to bring out the flavor; it probably could have used some salt, in retrospect.

The fish had been cleaned but not filleted. I don't have the tools or the knowledge to fillet a trout, but some people have it down pat; this video from "battlebauble" on YouTube looks convincing. We ended up picking out the bones after it had been cooked.

The trout was from the Spring Valley Trout Farm in Dexter, and the boys were there as part of Summers-Knoll summer "Escape Camp".