Thursday, April 24, 2014

Flash Weather: April 27-29 Skew-T Analysis

Anyone have a quick minute for a meteorology lesson?

The graph below is the 18z GFS Skew-T for Nashville valid 21z (or 3 pm) Monday afternoon. This is what is called a "loaded gun" sounding. For those who like football, these also known as "goalpost" soundings (probably serves as a better visual, right? =). These soundings are common with mid-south severe weather episodes, like the one we'll experience early next week. They typically represent storm systems with a large supply of moisture in the boundary layer provided by a low-level southerly flow and low-level moist convergence on the nose of a low-level jet at 850mb.

Sorry just had to get the mumbo-jumbo out of the way.

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There are many lines on a Skew-T, but we're just going to focus on the main ones for now:

First, let's identify the x-axis and y-axis contours. On the x-axis, we have temperatures in degrees Celsius; on the y-axis, we have the height and pressure of the atmospheric column (relative to meters and mb respectively).

Next, we have our isobars (lines of equal barometric pressure), which run horizontally from left to right and are provided in increments of 100 mb ranging from 1050 to 100 mb. In conjunction, we have our isotherms (solid lines of equal temperature), which run from the southwest to the northeast across the diagram in increments of 10° Celsius (more on dry/moist adiabats and saturation mixing ratio lines mean in a later post).

Now for our two primary colored lines:

The Red Line -- This is the plot of the temperature measurements that were taken from the rawinsonde (weather balloon) as it was increasing in height. This curve will always be
to the right of the dewpoint curve as you are facing a Skew-T. It is usually drawn in red but can be other colors.

The Green Line -- This is the plot of the dewpoint measurements increasing with height. This curve will always be to the left of the temperature curve as you are facing a Skew-T. It is usually drawn in green but can be other colors.

The plots of these lines can tell us a great deal about the atmosphere above us. As for this Slew-T, we see very strong instability with a breakable cap (cap = a stable region of the lower troposphere that limits storm development; see how the red line increases between 1500-2000 meters?), meaning we can expect explosive thunderstorm development once the cap weakens.

Now, let's look at the “slope” (or angles from the horizontal contour (the isobars) clockwise to a section of the T curve.

For stability, the smaller the angle, the greater stability there will be. The larger this angle, the more instability there will be. Basically, the stability of air parcels in an atmospheric layer is indicated by comparing the slope of the temperature line (red line) to the slope of the dewpoint line (green line). If we analyze the Skew-T below, we note the potential for high instability.

Speaking of high instability, check out the theta-e values for our regions next Monday. As defined by the National Weather Service, "Theta-e (or Equivalent Potential Temperature) is the temperature a parcel of air would have if  a) it was lifted until it became saturated, b) all water vapor was condensed out, and c) it was returned adiabatically (i.e., without transfer of heat or mass) to a pressure of 1000 millibars. Theta-e, which typically is expressed in degrees Kelvin, is directly related to the amount of heat present in an air parcel. Thus, it is useful in diagnosing atmospheric instability."

Back to the Skew-T, see those black flags on the right side column of the graph? These represent the strength and directional profiles of the wind. Here, we see the difference in directional wind shear between low and mid-levels is modest, but not terribly impressive; however, the difference in actual wind speed between low and mid-levels is high enough for tornadoes to be a threat.

Bottom line: At this time, all severe-weather criteria (large hail, straight-line winds, isolated tornadoes, isolated flooding, etc.) will be possible as we prepare for the worst severe weather system to impact middle Tennessee since April 2009. Details are still forming, but anytime we have a HWO (Hazardous Weather Outlook) issued with the following words, we know we have to keep our antennas up:

From OHX: "A POTENT STORM SYSTEM WILL BEGIN TO IMPACT THE TENNESSEE VALLEY BEGINNING LATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PERIOD WILL BE MONDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH LATE MONDAY NIGHT AS POSSIBLE SUPERCELL DEVELOPMENT COULD RESULT IN LARGE HAIL...DAMAGING WINDS...AND ISOLATED TORNADOES."

To see what the Storm Prediction Center is saying about next week's severe weather outbreak for middle Tennessee, visit: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/exper/day4-8/

Also, for a more comprehensive explanation on what all the Skew-T lines mean, check out Jeff Haby's write-up @ The Weather Prediction.

Note: Graphics received from tennesseewx.com forum discussion

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

5 Reasons Why Your Testimony is Lame…I Mean, Ineffective


Your testimony is lame.  That’s right…lame… as in worthless and embarrassing.
Or, at least that’s the vibe I get when I hear someone segue into one with a preface that starts with “It’s no big deal,” “I don’t want to bother you,” or “It’s not as good as , but…”.
As is the case with many of my blogs, this one can be traced back to a conversation I had recently with my mother.  I’m not ashamed to mention when I am inspired by something my mom has said or done.
Why?
Because she is freakin’ awesome.
See, when I am confident in the quality and source of my inspiration, I have no problem sharing it.
And you know what-most people who have heard stories about my mom want to meet her.  I’m 27 and my friends ask to meet my mom.  They get excited about being invited to hang out with her.  Heck, my brother’s girlfriend likes leaving my brother at home and going grocery shopping with her!
I never start a recounting of a “mom” encounter with “If it’s not an inconvenience” or with the intention of stating it in a relatively non-assuming, non-discomforting kind of way.  I never worry about what kind of light I’m presenting my mom in or if people will be bothered by hearing about her.
So, why is it easier for me to reference the amazing result of a cool interaction with my mom than it is for me to acknowledge God and what he has done?
You see, I know my mom and I know who she is and what she does speaks for itself.
I’m not worried about running PR for her.  I’m just excited to share what I have learned or experienced as a result of my relationship with her.  Parents and grandparents are like this with their kids, teens are like that with their boy/girlfriends and everyone is like that when it comes to their celebrity flavor of choice.
This tells me that, as humans, it is natural for us to bear witness to those things that we experience.  It’s innately in us, to shine light on things we are impressed/encouraged/excited by. 
If that’s the case, then why are our testimonies so ineffective when it comes to God?
You see, my mom was sharing with me about how God has been meeting with her lately.  I encouraged her to share it with some others, but she was afraid of sounding ‘holier than thou’ or ‘prideful’ to say how God was meeting with her.  Whisky Tango Charlie!
But I do the same thing!
What is the natural response to a story given hesitantly, apologetically or insecurely?  The hearer feels hesitant, apprehensive and insecure concerning what they hear.  So, if you have experienced this or wondered why people don’t seem to be encouraged by or respond to your testimony when you share it, you may have fallen prey to one (or all) of the 5 reasons your testimony is lame.
1)      You apologize for it
Things it is appropriate to apologize for sharing
  • Bad News
  • A Cold
  • Irritation or frustration
I don’t know what God has done in your life, but chances are it doesn’t fall into any of the categories above.
Things you don’t apologize for sharing
  • Candy
  • Good News
  • Hope/encouragement
What God has done in your life is either better than or falls into one of these categories.  So stop apologizing.
2)      You qualify it
If you start sharing how Awesome God is or has been in your life with “Maybe it’s just me”, then why would I want to listen to it?
That’s like looking at a single person and expecting them to get excited because you’re the one getting married.  Chances are, no matter how close, they won’t be as excited as you are.  They may be happy for you, but it probably won’t impact their life (unless it makes them really jealous, which is not what you’re going for, right?).
3)      You downplay it
I’ve seen so many people afraid to share their testimony because it’s not the silver lining to a story littered with drugs, sex and rock and roll.  Heck, I’ve been that person!
It’s a common misconception that a testimony has to be “dramatic” for it to be powerful.  This is a grievous misnomer or to put it simple-WRONG.
The biggest difference between the “Jesus saved me from a debauched life” and “I never had to go through that” is simply one person is more grateful than the other.
Ouch…
Maybe if those of us who haven’t had to “go through hell” were just as excited and grateful for the grace we’ve received, others would be too.
This one is a common killer of those “post salvation” testimonies.  Just because you’re saved doesn’t mean you stop bearing witness to the greatness of God.  His presence, sanctification and sustenance reflect that Salvation isn’t just getting you out of Hell, it’s about complete restoration.
4)      You’ve been ‘forgiven’ so you’ve forgotten it
This one is a toughie.  How do we walk in victory while holding on to the past?   Wait, no, it’s not tough at all.
We’ve just got to realize that your history isn’t about what you’ve done; it’s aboutwhat God’s done.
You don’t share it to build up the Old Man, you share it to lift up the Son of Man, so all can be drawn to him.  Your testimony isn’t about you, just like mine is not about me!
5)      You never get around to making it
The biggest killer of an impacting testimony is simply not allowing God to make your life into one.
A testimony is bearing witness or providing an account of what you know is true.  A testimony isn’t just about bad things that have happened, but about the character and life of the one on trial.
And thanks to Jesus, that one isn’t you or me.
He took our place on trial and now our lives are used to give credibility to His Story…or take away from it.
Revelation 12:11 tells us we are saved by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony or as The Message puts it, our bold witness.
If we shrink back, we aren’t allowing God to use our life to build a case for his goodness and the prosecutor (Satan) isn’t slacking in making his to those hearing the evidence.
Don’t hold back—let Christ turn you into the perfect character witness.
So, today I’m challenging myself with this: How can I give voice to the awesomeness of who God is and what he’s done/doing in my life.  Because, as much as I love my mom, God is way more awesome than her!
Today, let’s just practice giving voice.  Share your testimony in the comments-it may encourage someone.
Written by: Lyssah Fry, guest blogger ("Fog for Muses")
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The "Cross-Road" in the Sand

Imagine the fate of your credibility and a complete stranger riding on a decision you needed to make in the heat of a tense moment.

No doubt, it’s hard to fathom such a perfect storm in our personal lives; however, when we look at Christ’s ministry, we find such challenges playing a regular role.

Take John 8 for instance, where we find Jesus, once again, navigating harsh winds, this time in the form of a devious scheme.

After shattering some serious mold at the Festival of Tabernacles (John 7), Jesus makes one of his timely getaways to the Mount Olives. Although the text isn’t clear on what Jesus did during his respite, we can deduce by Gospel trends the likely probability of Jesus resting, interceding and communing with the Father, all part of his preparation for the day ahead.

After an early rise to teach in the temple courts, the drama unfolds in verse 3, as teachers of the Law and the Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery to a sitting Jesus.

Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (v. 4-5)*

Off the bat, we see Jesus disrupted by a parade of Pharisees and religious fanatics, carrying not only an adulteress, but a manipulative plot to derail him of influence. Talk about a flammable situation! Yet, it’s at the point the ploy enters the red zone, when Jesus prepares for a stunning interception.

While Jesus could have delivered a crushing reply right on demand, what we find in verse 6 is as telling as any other Scriptural revelation of Christ’s character. Rather than immediately responding, Jesus, in a remarkable display of humility, puts his finger on the dirt and begins to write.

But before we discuss what Jesus wrote, let’s address the bigger picture first. Regardless of what was written in the sand, the overarching point is Jesus referenced his Father at one of the most crucial points in his entire ministry and postured himself to receive the right response. By aligning his lens, Jesus synced his words to what God wanted him to speak:

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…**

Talk about life literally speaking, while snuffing out the prospect of death. The moment was essentially a preview of the cross.

Now, we’re going to pause for two reasons:

Number one, to soak in the brilliance of one of the greatest sentences ever spoken; and two, to keep us from a premature analysis of the crowd’s reaction.

Clearly, the apex of the entire story lies in Jesus’ masterfully-executed comeback, a response with inspiration rooted in Scripture (see Deuteronomy 17:7, 22:22).

And while some may question if the woman was caught in the act (since the man in the act was absent from the scene), the genius of Jesus’ counter is how it makes this argument a moot point.

Essentially, Jesus told off an entire mass of bloodthirsty maniacs:

He whose conscience acquits him of any such sin…cast the first stone.***

You talk about a concise, well-rounded retort with no loops holes. If Jesus was a pitcher, no doubt, this was the equivalent of a perfect game.

Yet, there’s also significance in the chronology of the story. After Jesus’ reply, we find another profound observation in verse 8:

And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.”

So now we see Jesus not only speaking, but operating cool under fire. Instead of standing up to the masses or walking over to console the woman, he hits the dirt for a second time. The question is: Why did he do this and what message was he trying to send, if any?

To answer this, we can now address the significance and content of what Jesus wrote in the sand.

Interestingly enough, the John 8 account is the only report of Jesus writing in the Bible, and the allusion to ‘finger’ may, in fact, point to the only other ‘deity writing’ reference – God’s commandment inscription on the stone tablets in Exodus 31.

Does this imply Jesus was actually writing the seventh commandment in the sand? It’s certainly plausible.

Yet, when we examine Jeremiah 17:13, we uncover a gleam of prophetic foreshadowing:

O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.”

Now, is this passage directly pointing to John 8? Some scholars would say so, partly based on the hint in v. 9:

[And] when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.”

Based on the verse’s timetable, Jesus could have written the names of the accusers as well as their respective sins in the dirt. Then again, Jesus could have simply been doodling hearts and/or crosses as he waited on God.

Either way, the act bore symbolic significance, given the ‘finger’ represented Jesus’ messiahship and captured the heart of his character as he, “neither found fault with the law, nor excused the prisoner's guilt; nor did he countenance the pretended zeal of the Pharisees.”

Instead Jesus “aimed to bring, not only the accused to repentance, by showing her his mercy, but the prosecutors also, by showing them their sins; they thought to in snare him, he sought to convince and convert them…in this matter Christ attended to the great work about which he came into the world, that was, to bring sinners to repentance; not to destroy, but to save.” ****

So whatever Jesus did write, whether one word, an entire Scripture or a reference to one, his goal became fixed on opening eyes to his mercy and compassion. For Jesus knew by conquering evil intentions, he could use drama as a springboard to reveal not only his identity (i.e. “light of the world”), but the power of his testimony.

But before Jesus approaches the second half of his contest with the Pharisees, we note an iconic scene unfolding as the dust settles on what's now an abandoned conspiracy. Sandwiched between his set of disputes, we find Jesus alone with the woman.

“‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ No one, Lord,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and sin no more.’”

Note how Jesus emphasizes the absence of condemnation before personally declaring his lack of it. One could only imagine what the woman might have thought at this point. Chances are no matter how she felt, it was accompanied by trembling and reverent awe (see Psalm 96:9 & Psalm 119:120).

For in one defining moment, Jesus unveiled his very purpose: to save.

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Thousands of years later, the story lives on, in part, to remind us how we are all like the adulteress.

Every day, we deserve the stone, but every day, we are being saved from it…

…with every day, a chance to go and sin no more.

And that, my friends, is the joy of the cross – the gift of celebrating resurrection and redemption at the same time. The thrill of commemorating the perfect atonement who spoke the perfect words at the perfect time.

So if you feel lost in the dark, remember the light of the world is always near, ready to author His love onto the tablet of your heart.

All you need to do is believe and receive.

Footnotes

*Cue Admiral Ackbar
**Mufasa tingles, anyone?
***Jamieson Fausset Brown commentary
**** Matthew Henry’s commentary

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why I Stonewall (A Teenage Monologue)

I have a problem I’m willing to admit: I don’t give a crap what you think.

Because at the end of the day, I’m not you…
…and I’m only going to give you so much room. To know. To feel. To see. Me.

Granted, I’m not the center of the universe. Psh, I mean, who am I to want that?  Besides, it’s not like I want, or even need attention as much as the occasional dose of acceptance. But let's get one thing straight: I'm not the kind to tempt pride by wielding it out of people. That's just not me. Honestly, I’d rather tightrope the fine line between selflessness and self-protection. After all, I have fears and hopes like anyone else.

Let’s face it: the pursuit of “happiness” is messy and joy comes with a cost. Whatever we’re searching for…whatever path we desire…chances are the road will feature rejection, failure, uncertainty…and collisions into our darkest fears. Surely not every journey justifies the pain incurred…

…then again maybe it does.

I mean…I may not know much, but I do know what it’s like to be labeled. To be typecast as a miscreant. To be ruthlessly judged. To be purposely ignored. I know what it’s like to shatter expectations. To delay dreams. To disappoint the people I love the most. To strip away innocence by an idolized thirst for fulfillment.

I know what it’s like to rip the smile off of God’s face.

And honestly, that’s enough to tolerate the haunting memories seeking to suck the life-brew out of me.

But it’s there in my cul-de-sac of vulnerability where I’m reminded why I stonewall…why I create fortresses of hurt-preventing cynicism. For out of offense, I establish my best defense. At least, that’s the lie I want to believe. When relational drama cyclones into my life, I want to be ready. And the only way to be ready is to establish my fortress and leave only when I have to. Maybe once in a while, I’ll lower my moat into the cold wilderness of community. After all, I can’t be my own prisoner. I have to believe I’ll find some diamonds in the rough some day, right?

Until then, I can only care so much. ‘Cause at the end of the day, what really matters are the warm confines of my refuge and the safety in knowing I alone possess the key. No way in he** I’ll let anyone have it. I mean…why permit another condescending soul to liquidate my self-worth based on blind assumptions again?

Truth is: I’d rather be alone then discarded, consumed by the unfailing than emotionally tied to shadows posing as promises. After all, life’s too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So I’ll cut the cord, turn the other cheek and keep the ignorance on the opposition’s court. It just doesn’t make sense to care what others believe…to share in the responsibility of what others deem true.

But good grief, when did I become so skeptical? Sheesh, this doesn’t sound like me…to use hostility and exclusion as means for peace? God forbid contempt joins the mix.

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I remember when I used to be a happy, go-lucky person when it came to my friends. Before my unfortunate dabble in bad romance, it wasn’t hard to be myself. Granted, I had typical teenage immaturities, but overall,

I was pretty cool. At least the majority thought so.

I remember when an old friend could read my insecurities like a book, whose keen eye could penetrate my thick yet hollow armor. She knew I cared too much…about my appearance, my grades, what people thought…all the things she didn’t know how to fear. There was no need for her to be insecure; hence, why it was so easy to be jealous. Talk about a perfect package delivered to the wrong person. My name should have been on the box. Not hers.

But while I was a little envious, the point is: I didn’t need her to validate my weakness. I knew full-well it was there…perhaps not in detail, but I knew it was there. It’s not like I needed someone telling me what I already knew.

So I started building...not a whole lot at first, but enough to medicate.

And before long, I began to feel better. The more the pain numbed, the more confident I felt. And though I still kept to myself most of the time, I started to understand when I needed to open up to someone and when I needed to keep my eyes on the floor.

Then came the day the locker slammed on my courageous moment, the day a “Hey. How’s it going” died in an awkward tsunami of silence...my approach, no doubt, lost on the social anomaly.

I mean, c'mon. Me. An instigator? A go-getter? No way. Yet, here I was doing the very thing no one knew me for: starting a conversation with a social elite.

Clearly, I had forgotten the social hierarchy of my surroundings. If only I hadn't been so happy that day, perhaps I would have avoided her cavalier eyes and the unspoken memo begging me to stop trying to be who I wasn't.

As I left school that day, I could feel the chasm widening. Deep down, a minor victory; on the surface, a major blow. I knew I had made the right move, but all I could feel was a throbbing sense of unworthiness. Funny how a God-forsaken minute can flip a world upside down.

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I’m stronger, more mature now. And I’d like to think the walls have helped me get there. Heck, maybe one of these days I’ll get around to building some bridges. But for now, I’d be lying if I said I was happier. Too many past mistakes…too many word curses and distractions seeking to pull me down, eating away at the joy I once I had in greater measure.

I can't afford any more sorrow...

...then again...that's why I stonewall…
…because what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

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