thumbnail of Down to the sea; 11; Where Storms are Born
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Why. Is. If. We left the mine on here the weather was nice and is fairly calm. Got about 0 0 0. Claims Santa Cruz Island Santa Rosa. The wind started coming that. So. Far the worse of. Course when you once you get out there I think the one thing though you've got to go on you can come back. OK so we got in the car the harbor which was a fairly good anchorage. And San Miguel Island racket only only anchors there is an area there that's safe at all. And it can be real rough and the wind switches on you. See. Card company. That's what she did and who around here the 3am predicable. The words really unpredictable accurately describe the sea and its weather patterns.
And Bob Spurlock skipper of the National Park Service patrol vessel off the coast of California like captains of other vessels large and small all over the world never takes the weather for granted and never takes a storm warning lightly. Vast stretches of the World Ocean are largely untraveled and even in this age of satellite weather observation and computer forecasting unexpected storms can suddenly spring to life. Or it is in the open ocean where storms are born. And that is the subject of this edition of down to the sea. Wind at CA gave man the ability to move across then limiting horizons to new lands. And as his knowledge of the sea of ships and sail and most important of the wind and weather expanded he opened routes of Commerce and exploration and found that he was able to travel more or less at will around the
world as the guest of the women of the open sea and even in this age of motor ships the trade winds are a part of every seaman's life. Below the sky line drops the shore the long grim gray backs lift and fall against the boughs they crash and roar the engine throb as the Sea Eagles call. And sold against my pallid face. There comes the challenge bold and free of that world tramp who roams through space the wind the wind the open sea. Here is no breeze of drowsy lanes no breath of crowded towns and stay oh this is the wind that sweeps the manes and leaps along the trackless trail and with its savor on my lips the ancient joy comes back to me of those who dared in Viking ships the wind the wind of open sea. It blows from out the vasty skies across the tumbling seas expanse
it stings to deeds of high emprise it sings of glamour and romance chilled clean and strong. My pulses leap my heart is filled with buoyant glee. I agree the rover of the day the wind the wind of open sea. The news. The. Good news.
A gentle trade wind and ocean breeze can mean pleasant days at sea and good memories of an ocean journey. But for those who earn their livelihood at sea the wind can also be an enemy. An expert on both the weather and the problems faced by fisherman is Dr. Glenn a Flickinger formally a scientist with the fisheries Oceanography Center of the Department of Interior's Bureau of commercial fisheries. And now director of San Diego State Colleges Bureau of marine sciences as a matter of fact the fishermans primary problem is whether it's safe and whether or not in the sense of rain are far but weather in the sense of wind. When is the fisherman's primary enemy winds generate seas and seas generated a very unstable condition for the platform on which he works. If the winds exceed a certain limit his vessel no longer is workable in the strict physical sense. He cannot stand it's rocking too hard.
The gear doesn't fish properly. It is unsafe to handle the gear. All of these conditions accumulate to the point where the fisherman asked to throw out his sea anchor and write out the weather or in his words to tough it out or he has to head to port for refuge until the storm is a baited one of Dr. flip News chief concerns has been the study of sea surface temperature. The information gathered from this research is important not only to fishermen but also for weather forecasting. We already know from the meteorological community that the tropical ocean areas are the so-called spawning areas of the tropical storms which in the Atlantic are called hurricanes and in the Pacific on the Mexican coastline they're called Should Bosco's in the western Pacific they're called typhoons. They're all very intense cyclonic storms which develop over the warmest
regions of the tropical oceans. Having an idea of what the surface temperature distribution of the world's oceans looks like we can then look at the areas where these storms will most likely generate. This has proven to be of extreme value to the meteorological forecasting community and as a consequence now they are concerned with sea temperature distributions because they can refine their tropical storm monitoring and forecasting techniques there by the ocean is the world's evaporating pan. In my view the degree to which the latent heat of evaporation and moisture are added to the atmosphere. Remains a function of the trajectory of the air mass over the sea surface and the prevailing temperature of the sea surface. Now we here in our laboratory have as our prime concern how the temperatures of the ocean surface
vary from month to month and in comparison to a long term base average. We call these differences from the average anomalies the anomaly patterns and the intensity of the anomaly fields. Give us a considerable degree of information as to the areas that are most likely going to be storm generating and storm terminating in particular tropical storms moving out of the tropical latitudes and the warm area where the storm first came into existence. Oftentimes in the Baja California coast move across very cold up well water at this point in time the cold up well water surface tends to. Remove energy from the base of the tropical storm system simply by cooling. And we oftentimes see these so-called goes moving up the Mexican mainland off toward La
Paz Baja California across the Baja California peninsula and when they hit they called up wild water in the west side. The storms commence dissipating before it is possible to provide any kind of large area forecast before it is possible even to provide an accurate weather map of existing patterns around the world. It is necessary to collect and analyze weather information from as many different locations as possible. The United States Navy maintains an efficient modern highly computerized facility to process weather information from hundreds of sources outpolls Navy commercial and private ships at sea air and satellite weather reconnaissance and oceanographic research ships from all over the world as information comes in to fleet numerical weather central in Monterey California where we talk to Chief Paul Johnson various stations report to sort of master links. I know sort of party line type of situation where each station knows
exactly when he is supposed to report in his turn. And these are collected at central points and related relayed to major collection. And they're there but on my speed their networks for transmission either. Taker or cars well work to fleet numerical weather central whatever the case may be. This dead is in a very rough format. And is not. Really very useful for high speed data processing equipment. The ocean observations are probably by far the most scariest that we have to aquire and the greatest emphasis is placed here on trying to acquire a great amount of oceanographic data because the oceans are so tremendously large and because there are so few ships that actually do any oceanographic research of any type at all
means that the amount of data that you get for any representative area is extremely sparse. Though the oceans don't change radically in a small period of time. They are under. Going constant change and this makes development of any type of history extremely difficult. But there are vast amounts of our ocean that we know very little about. Through trying to create interest in this. Lack of data. We've made some success. Our primary course contributor to the amount of data we get back to form a graph type work ocean sounding temperature sounding. Observations is of course the U.S. Navy. But we do get a fair amount of help from certain civilian organizations that are also interested in oceanographic development and they. Take back the thermal graph soundings to get these
ocean temperature soundings. So as we create more and more interest we do receive more and more data in or able to better evaluate the ocean but we're long a long way from any kind of. Even acceptable products at this point. Most of them are extremely experimental and just. Really point to the needs rather than to really the benefits that could be really derived at this point. You started first making the first headway into this is we get this debt and we sort it out going to various types of programs we've got here in house. A whole section that's just devoted strictly to oceanography and they start out with just simple bath a thermal graph reports and a bathroom a graph report starts off with the temperature at the surface. And the air temperature to service and then goes
down to the next level at which there's a significant departure from that same temperature and it reports the depth that it was at in the temperature that was there and continues on down until either the sounding is so deep that it no longer has contact with the surface where it hits the bottom of the ocean. And then these profiles as they're referred to are transmitted in the form of code usually by means of some type of wireless communication with the beach and then they're transmitted through various communications facilities Hopefully they get here within a few hours of their being taken in this way we come up with an oceanographic analysis that gives us a pretty good idea of the temperature structure at that particular place in the ocean. And together with a number of these things we try to get an overall temperature structure in an overall structure of the oceanographic surface but it's such a huge amount of water that you.
5000 observations over a 60 hour period. May sound like a lot of observations a lot of bathroom a grass but when you consider the amount of area you're talking about it's talking about. A very similar thing to knowing what the wind is like in New York and what the wind is like in Chicago and trying to guess what it might be like somewhere in between. Once we have our parameters analyzed we've made our basic analysis. The next most important thing is to take this analysis and step it forward in time through some sort of prognostication so that we're not only trying to describe the atmosphere as it appears over the ocean as it appears right now but how it might appear in 12 hours or 24 48 hours so that our consumers as they're referred to customers or anyone that would be interested in the weather can make some planes in accordance with what is the most likely the most possible development from the current situation. And these are
forecasts which are also disseminated by the same high speed networks that feed in our data. So there are sort of duplex in nature in other words they not only receive that are capable of transmitting. How put of this is the fleet whether central Norfolk Pearl Harbor Alameda received forecasts from us that are transmitted to them in a in an order of something like two to three hours after the observation time so that staying at twelve o'clock or noon observation time they will start getting forecasts from those observations back to their own house. About two and a half hours later or fourteen thirty two in the afternoon they would start receiving forecasts based on the twelve hundred observations which gives them the position of being able to very rapidly have an an on
an on the situation based not only on just a local amount of information which they can only obtain locally but is based more on a hemispheric nature in other words they get the benefit of hemispheric collection of data rather than just the benefit of just local collection which they can only collect in their own area with them visited the computer center at least numerical weather central. Sleep now what's the. What's the proper title of this for. Well. This is a mock. Trial and station. The station serves the monitor. Currently traffic. Going out. To be transmitted up and down the west coast from now immediately it also serves as the receiving point. And. Going on right now. For.
Oceanographic data in this case from. Services to technology. And the bureau curtly brochure graphic data. Might coincide from now. Placed on. Paper fade. And fed into the computer. Can be used in. An oceanographic analysis. Modern electronic communication equipment keeps Monterey in constant touch with other centers of oceanographic study. Period. A oyster. Saying. Hang in here before we begin. Eric just told something by writing out if you're having a OK out here you know if I hear you are a big a felony you are ok ok I hear you I hear you.
When Martha Raye is ready to transmit late weather information in detail other stations are notified including oceanographic centers like the fishery Oceanography Center hundreds of miles to the south of La Jolla productive Flickinger is standing by. Us. Now what we are hearing here is a dial tone station acquisition putting the copy machine on the line and ready to receive a product from the transmitter. Thank you. Hello Eric.
Here is a chart. From the computer generated image. The machine is a digital ladder and advanced That is excellent. Thank you. Here is literally ratcheting up and down. And you know having him going on the grant they signal that you hear the phone signal that you hear is the digital and in terms of. Machine commands in units of x and y and an up and down command. This whole data string results in a hand-drawn analysis of an upper air charge in this case a 500 millibar card.
Are a representation of the meter logic from conditions at approximately 18000 feet out to. 11. With each passing year weather experts are finding new answers to age old questions about the creation and movement of storms. But accurate forecasts of storm movement is still only possible for a few hours with tropical storms twisting and turning and outsmarting the most sophisticated of computers. The weather in the tropics seems to be almost monotonously uniform yet this very area gives birth to the most violent storms known to man. The answer to this paradox lies high over the surface of the sea whereas most air
currents pass and intermix and wave like disturbances. The deflection of trade winds causes a breakdown in the natural boundary between the moist and lower air and the dry up and they are funneling moist air up thousands of feet forming giant thunderheads under ideal conditions conflicting eddies of their at high altitudes intensify the disturbance. The pattern of air flow develops a whirling cycle on rain intensifies thunderheads multiply the length warm moist air rising from the sea. Results in the warming of the storms core and the conditions are right for the development of a full fledged hurricane or typhoon. Data as. Well as
so. That. I. Am. Glad. That. That was. That. That. Was. Not. Right. Memory. Was. Great. For. The free.
Market. I know. That and read. Don't you take no sale offer. The old man said the. Wind and see the rampage and that to wake the dead. Russians in the 40s in the sleep me. Running down the east and under all planes say oh she's logon 17 and she's listening to a Grand Slam go on below for a stretch off the land and of it gets any worse Mr You can come and call me. But don't you take no sail off or. The old man. City. Them was the days. Sunny's. Them was the man. Them was the ship. She will never see it. I am old but it was something then to be alive. Crashing on the wrong. Stuff. When I was no sail off or the old man would say. The. Risk is. There. She's lucky I'm 17 and she's listening
to what. I mean to keep her going under all she'll stand and if it gets any worse mister you can send and call me. But don't you take no sail over the old man. Did he. Spank the ICO though. What is the hope for the future of weather data collection and storm forecasting. We asked Chief Johnson at Slate Americal whether central about the much publicized World Weather Watch. Well the World Weather Watch of course involves many many different atmospheric environmental should say rather parameters. We're trying to acquire. Information and trying to really develop an interest
in the environment that we're living in not only the ocean but in the atmosphere trying to create the interest that we really need. The World Weather Watch is. Really basically communications effort largely we're able to get this type of information but not able to get it in time to really be of great value and this is one of the big efforts of the World Weather watchers to be able to create the emphasis within the community communications community so that the data can be transmitted to places where it's needed most rapidly through proper analyses and so on both an atmospheric and oceanographic nature can be made in a timely manner so that the benefits of these timely analysis can be disseminated along with forecasts. Soon enough to make timely forecasts.
Yeah. And. Someday Man may be able to divert to major storms or at least lessen their intensity before that time our best weapon is accurate information on the changing world weather information gathered from the sea where storms are borne down to the sea is a production of public radio station KBOX FM at San Diego State College written and prepared for broadcast by your host Tom McManus with the assistance of Ken Kramer. These programs feature traditional music of the CAA arranged and performed by Sam Hinton and narrative and poetic passages read by Cliff Kirk.
The production of down to the sea was made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Down to the sea
Episode Number
Where Storms are Born
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-kh0f0930).
No description available
Social Issues
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 71-11-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:57:25
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Down to the sea; 11; Where Storms are Born,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 6, 2023,
MLA: “Down to the sea; 11; Where Storms are Born.” 1971-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 6, 2023. <>.
APA: Down to the sea; 11; Where Storms are Born. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from