Nate Holt's Blog

July 5, 2009

A tornado and a green flash

Filed under: Musings — nateholt @ 9:21 am

(this was originally posted in May 2006 on the old blog)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the television debut of “The Wizard of Oz”. Saturday evening, November 3, 1956 on CBS-TV program called Ford Star Jubilee. It was next shown on TV in 1959 and then became pretty much an annual TV event.

I think I saw the debut. I developed a very early fascination for tornados. The early-on scene of Dorothy and the farm house being swept up in the storm, the woman peddling the bicycle through the black, swirling air and morphing into a witch riding a broom… all made a huge impression on this first-grader.

tornado

Since then, I always wanted to witness a real tornado (from a reasonable distance, of course). Whenever a really big storm is brewing outside, I run out and look toward the southwest, waiting for “it”. My wife thinks I’m nuts, I guess. Anyway, still no luck after all these years.

Other than a tornado there is one other atmospheric spectacle that I really, really want to see someday: the Green Flash. This is very rare. It appears as an emerald-green flash of light just as the setting sun dips below the horizon. Here is an example of a lucky sighting in Madagascar (Vic & Jen Winter), a small portion reproduced here (follow link for full effect!)

greenflash

I don’t have many opportunities here in Ohio to watch for it… too many trees and clouds. But some time ago I had a stretch where I spent many weeks in Amarillo, Texas. There it was easy to see all the way to the horizon and (it shared with nearby Kansas) had a “sky was not clouded all day”. I was a young electrical controls engineer, often found hunched over my 4-node Modicon 384 PLC programming unit long after all the other workers had knocked off and the construction site had grown dead quiet. I could see the setting sun from where I sat, looking out through the unfinished building’s silhouette of structural steel, pipes, and process equipment. As that Texas sunset slanted down along the horizon, I would pause and almost hold my breath. Slowly, slowly, sinking, sinking, disappears, pause, pause… no green flash.

I’m still waiting.

Has anyone seen both?

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