The supercell wall cloud at the heart of the thunderstorm is shown in this photo snapped by a commercial airline pilot whose jet passed safely by, if a little too close for comfort. The cloud grew so tall it bumped up against the tropopause–essentially, the upper boundary of the atmosphere–where it spread out flat.
This sort of weather is a common summertime phenomenon across the Great Plains in the United States, but it's rare in most other parts of the world. For the past three days, however, France has been enjoying supercell storms in all their magnificence.
This is the time of year when, in many places, the first springtime crop of mosquitoes takes to the air at once and . . . swarms.
The Alaskan tundra and other Arctic-like regions are notorious for huge dark clouds of skeeters, hovering hungrily and buzzing, whining--call it screaming for blood.
But this photo was taken last week in Portugal, in the salt marshes near Vila Franca de Xira. The swarm affected the shape of a tornado, and perhaps inspired a bit of the fear associated with tornadoes. But it wasn't really a cyclone; the flight pattern of the little bloodsuckers wasn't rotational, just the usual brownian motion within the overall swarm. And the top of the swarm was much closer to the viewer than the bottom, which is why it appears wider.
We are told that outside of the tropics, people don't really die from mosquito bites, even if they get hundreds of bites, as in a serious swarm. They don't die; they just wish they would.
5:30's not bad. Really. We don't have to pay any attention to that groundhog behind the curtain: spring is coming.
Still have to wear a coat, though.. . .