Conquer the sea

(Photo courtesy of Nick Stasiak)

It’s finals week...which means no sleep, caffeine, and an endless array of essays and cram sessions.  But before you know it, you’ll be walking out of the classroom and into the unstable summer air, humid, and dizzy with cicadas.

Wait. What? Oh yes. You read that correctly. This summer looks to be one of the most active summers in quite some time.

Severe thunderstorms, which are defined as having winds above 58 mph or unusually large hail, will be very common this summer. The two factors that fuel severe thunderstorms are CAPE and wind shear. CAPE is the measure of how much raw energy is available for storms to form. Wind shear is the measure of how the speed and direction of winds change with altitude. There should be an increase in CAPE this summer, causing warmer surface temperatures which will put more moisture in the air from evaporation. More pulling and twisting of wind shear can make weak storms turn into strong ones.

(Photo courtesy of Nick Stasiak)

I remember back in elementary school when I dreaded recess for the sole reason that the “extremely loud and bothersome bugs” were outside.  Good thing I don’t get recess anymore! Once the surface temperature hits an average of 65 degrees, the cicadas will stop sucking on the tree roots and show themselves. After a few weeks of clinging to the tree limbs, they’ll die off. Once they all die and their offspring head back to the underworld, don’t expect to see them again until 2030.

Though the thunderstorms can be frightening, and the cicadas can be annoying, I’m challenging every Mason Patriot to set one goal this summer and have the determination to conquer it.  Last summer, I had the privilege of spending a week in Topsail, NC.  There, as I anticipated the transition to college, I marveled at the many ships that adorned the waters of the Atlantic.  There were ships for tourists and ships for work but they each had a job to do.  Ships aren't built to be permanently docked; they are built strong and reliable to weather storms and seek new adventures.  I had an amazing freshman year at George Mason University.  I like to think that I untied the ropes of my ship and set sail on the adventure of a lifetime.  In high school, Lauren Ricketts was someone I greatly admired.  She is a local meteorologist who eventually made her way from a hometown station to ABC7 in Washington, D.C. This year, I got to interview Ms. Ricketts at the ABC7 station before a live airing of the news.  To my delight, she introduced me to Doug Hill and Bob Ryan, meteorologists I respect and have followed in my quest to learn more about weather forecasting.  I am humbled by these opportunities which are always present, and realize that had I kept my ship docked, I may have missed the chance to fulfill a dream.

This has been an unforgettable year for me.  It is an honor to forecast the weather and to keep the community safe at Mason as we set sail on new adventures, always.

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