Blog Fiasco

April 20, 2014

Ten years since Jamestown

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Musings,Weather — Tags: , , — bcotton @ 8:47 pm

Ten years ago, I was sitting in my apartment on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. My last class of the day ended around 1:30 and I was settled in to get some work done on the forecast game that I ran for the University. WFO Lincoln had issued a few tornado warnings and there were reports of cold air funnels, so my friend Mike Kruze and I decided to spend the afternoon driving around getting rained on. Instead, we saw one of the most photogenic tornadoes ever recorded in Indiana. And then another one. And then a third (though this one is unofficial, since we could not see the ground from our position and no damage was observed in the empty field).

This was only two days after Mike and I had returned from a marathon drive to northern Iowa, where the most we saw was vivid lightning and large hail after sunset. By this point, I had been chasing for a year and a half. Chase attempts evolved from some undergrad doofuses piling in the car and driving around to a fairly mature venture with thoughtful forecasts, data stops, and real efforts to be in position. Of course, as luck would have it, April 20 ended up being somewhat of a doofus day. Mike had a data plan on his Sprint PCS phone, and it was just enough for us to pull up the occasional radar image. Without that, we’d never have found ourselves standing in rural Boone County with a tornado directly to our west.

At the time of the Jamestown tornado, wasn’t even a gleam in my eye. I was planning on making a career in the National Weather Service. I figured chasing would be a thing I did with regularity. Ten years on, I’ve earned my meteorology degree, but I’ve never worked as a professional in the field. I have one chase day in the last five years, and I’m less than a year from a decade-long tornado drought. I’ve still only chased west of the Mississippi twice. With a toddler and home and another baby due early summer, I’m not likely to get out this year. But I still feel the gentle tug of the storm, pulling me to go out and seek it. I know I will at some point. I just don’t know when.

September 26, 2013

Added weather songs

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Weather — Tags: — bcotton @ 10:18 pm

A while ago, I wrote some weather-themed song parodies. I’ve finally dug them up and posted them to the Funnel Fiasco weather page. Sadly, I can’t seem to find the song “Your Progs” that I co-wrote with my friend Joe. If I can ever find a copy of it somewhere, I’ll add that, too.

September 23, 2013

New discussions in the Hall of Fame

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Weather — Tags: , — bcotton @ 1:47 pm

This has been a good week for the National Weather Service. Two new discussions have been added to the Hall of Fame.

July 9, 2013

TS Chantal forecast

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Weather — Tags: , , , , , — bcotton @ 8:05 pm

It’s that time again. The tropical storm Chantal forecast game has been opened. Be sure to get your forecast submitted by 8 PM EDT on Wednesday. As a new feature this year, I’ll include an approximated version of the National Hurricane Center’s forecast for comparison. You may also note that yet another year has passed without any significant updates to the game code. I swear one of these days I’ll make the improvements I keep promising.

June 13, 2013

Big news!

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco — bcotton @ 10:11 pm

There’s big news in Fiasco Land. I don’t just mean Mario Marathon 6 (raising money for Child’s Play Charity) which starts next week. Beginning July 1, I will be a Senior Support Engineer at Cycle Computing. That’s right, after nearly seven years of professional employment at my alma mater, I’m leaving the public sector.

I won’t be leaving Purdue entirely, though. Because my new position is telecommutable, I’ll be able to finish my last semester of classes for my masters degree (which just got a lot more expensive). I wasn’t particularly looking to get away, but this opportunity seems to come at the right time for me.

So what does this mean for this blog? Well, I’ll either be writing more or less, depending on how much work I have on my plate. Expect to see high throughput computing become more prevalent, to the degree I am allowed to talk about what I’m working on. Other than that, it’s business as usual (for now).

February 5, 2013

New forecast discussion in the Hall of Fame

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Weather — Tags: , , — bcotton @ 10:57 pm

I added an Area Forecast Discussion from the NWS office in Minneapolis to the Forecast Discussion Hall of Fame. It nearly was rejected on the grounds that it said “Groundhog’s Day” instead of “Groundhog Day”, but I was feeling generous and so overlooked the error.

December 7, 2012

Coming up: LISA ’12

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,HPC/HTC,Linux — Tags: , , , — bcotton @ 2:40 pm

It may seem like I’ve not been writing much lately, but nothing can be further from the truth. It’s just that my writing has been for grad school instead of Blog Fiasco. But don’t worry, soon I’ll be blogging like a madman. That’s right: it’s time for LISA ’12. Once again, I have the privilege of being on the conference blog team and learning from some of the TopPeople[tm] in the field. Here’s a quick look at my schedule (subject to change based on level of alertness, addition of BoFs, etc):







Now I just need to pack my bags and get started on the take-home final that’s due mid-week. Look for posts from me and my team members Matt Simmons and Greg Riedesel on the USENIX Blog.

October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Forecast Game results

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Weather — Tags: , , , — bcotton @ 9:12 pm

We set a record for the number of players with the Hurricane Sandy contest, and the winner is the deceptively-named StormsHitGeorgia. Full results are at The scores were among the lowest I’ve ever seen, although the relatively short forecast period probably helped. It’s interesting to note that the last official forecast from the NHC, roughly converted into a forecast for this game, would have finished in 11th place.

October 26, 2012

New discussions added to the Hall of Fame

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Weather — Tags: , — bcotton @ 9:56 pm

The Forecast Discussion Hall of Fame has three new entries. Two are submitted by loyal “fans” of the site, and the third is sort of a big thing in the news right now.

October 25, 2012

Hurricane Sandy contest

Filed under: Funnel Fiasco,Weather — Tags: , , , , , — bcotton @ 10:18 am

It’s time to take a risk on Hurricane Sandy. I’ve opened the Sandy forecast contest. Forecasts are due at 8 PM EDT on Friday (27 October at 00Z).

Some rule clarifications:

  • If the storm takes on extratropical characteristics, it still counts so long as the National Hurricane Center is tracking it at landfall.
  • Landfall is defined as the first hit of the mainland, regardless of country. Barrier islands, etc, do not count.
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