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Mid-day reality check

Steve Scolnik @ 2:00 PM

Current reality
After a cold front moved through late yesterday, we have cooler and drier conditions in the Washington area under partly cloudy skies and northwesterly winds gusting at times over 20 mph at mid-day. Today will be much less exciting than yesterday, with highs in the mid 50's this afternoon and lows in the mid 30's tonight. See Jason's post below for the cool and possibly damp prospects for the rest of the week.

Virtual reality
It's spring, and a young man's fancy turns to . . . storm chasing! Want to chase tornadoes, but hate the inconvenience of severe bodily injury or death? The February 2005 issue of the Bulletin of the AMS reports that the folks at the Iowa State Virtual Reality Applications Center have a deal for you: virtual reality software for simulating severe thunderstorms. The program "represents an instant in time during the mature, roughly steady-state stage of a tornadic supercell." The realistic graphics include a wall cloud and tornado. (There is no word on whether that also includes a flying cow or barn, as in Twister). There are also realistic sound effects, such as the roar of the tornado and hail. A graphical interface can be used to display data on the 3-D values of temperature, pressure, wind, and relative humidity.

The software was originally developed for Linux, and it sounds like the Windoze version is still evolving, but both versions can be downloaded from their site. The download file is rather large at 32MB. (It took 2 hours and 41 minutes at the 3.6KB rate which is all my 37-year-old copper wires can support. rant on Can you hear me now, Verizon? Why did you blanket the neighborhood with promotions for DSL if the service is not actually available? And why is it not available anyway within spitting distance of I-270, the "Technology Corridor"? rant off).

In another form of virtual reality, Doonesbury had an interesting view yesterday on the effects of outsourcing on snow removal services.

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