Category Archives: In the news

(re)materializing the weather at the Brooklyn Museum

The exhibition Materializing Six Years: Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art, co-curated by Catherine Morris and Vincent Bonin at the Brooklyn Museum, presents a selection of the artworks which inspired Lippard to write, curate, argue, protest, advocate, and define a movement in 1966-1972.

A striking, if not surprising, aspect of the exhibition is the number of works that engage the weather as subject and material.  Clouds and vapor, as affective phenomena that are ephemeral, un-containable, and (almost) immaterial, recur in works like Robert Morris’ Steam (1966) and Alice Aycock’s Cloud Piece (1971).

Like John Cage, Alex Hay uses weather to introduce the element of chance in his Collection Bag (Collection of Wind Blown Material), 1969–70.  Hans Haacke’s extensive engagement with the elements is represented by the playful Live Airborne System, November 30, 1968.  The poster for Terry Atkinson and Michael Baldwin: The “Air Conditioning” Show (1966) suggests an endgame in the reductivist progression of avant-garde art: what is ‘exhibited’ is only the temperature of a room.

The exhibition is on view through February 3, 2013.

Happy Birthday Lewis Fry Richardson

Thanks to the Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of physicist and psychologist Lewis Fry Richardson, born in Northumberland, England (1881), who was the first to apply mathematical techniques to predict the weather accurately. During WWI, Richardson served as a driver for the Friends’ Ambulance Unit in France. During the intervals between transporting wounded soldiers from the front, he manually computed the changes in pressure and wind at two points. From this information, he wrote his 1922 book, Weather Prediction by Numerical Process. The problem with his theories was that it took him about three months to predict the weather for the next 24 hours. His system did not become practical until the advent of electronic computers after World War II.

Images of September 8th NYC tornadoes

From The New York Times:

Radar images / commentary from the US National Weather Service here.

Hurricane Isaac

From Rebecca J. Rosen for The Atlantic:

This comes from, a collaboration of data-visualization stars Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg. Their wind map provides a nearly real-time glimpse of the wind flow around the United States, based on hourly data drawn from the National Digital Forecast Database. “So,” they write, “what you’re seeing is a living portrait.” (It looks even better on their site, so definitely click through to see it in its full glory.)

The map is always beautiful, even without a hurricane’s massive force. Today, though, it can give you a sense of just how far-reaching are Isaac’s effects, just how much of the country can feel the winds, literally, of a storm in the gulf.

For contrast, on the Wind Map’s gallery page you can see some different wind patterns from earlier this year

Out Now: ‘The Weather Observer’s Handbook’

From the Cloud Appreciation Society:

We are very pleased to announce that ‘The Weather Observer’s Handbook’ by Stephen Burt is published today. The handbook provides a comprehensive, practical and independent guide to all aspects of making weather observations. It is ideal for both amateur observers looking for help in choosing their first weather instruments on a tight budget and for professional observers looking for a comprehensive and up-to-date guide.

The Cloud Appreciation Society gives info on the following discounts: You can buy it directly from Cambridge University Press at a 20% discount: In the UK, download the 20% discount flyer; in the US, vist and enter the discount code: E2BURT.

Big News Merger in the PWS World

After 17 years of aggregating data from Personal Weather Stations as an independent company, Weather Underground has been acquired by the Weather Channel.

Some  reactions…

“Whether  [The Weather Channel] will entirely replace its own forecasts with Weather Underground’s BestForecast is not immediately clear. The predicitions are often substantially different. Right now, for instance, is predicting that it will be 93 degrees in my part of New York on the Fourth of July, while Weather Underground says 99.”
“In an interview, David Kenny,  the chairman and chief executive of the Weather Channel Companies, praised the Weather Underground site for having a “hard-core audience” of passionate weather fans. Some of them, he admitted, have sour views of the Weather Channel, which they see as overly corporate and dependent on advertising.”

” This deal will put Weather Underground’s awesome technology to use on a much bigger stage, bringing better information to a large number of people…”

This just received in the SPWS inbox:

Dear SP Weather Station Flux Factory,

As an invaluable member of our Personal Weather Station (PWS) community, I wanted you to be the first to know that Weather Underground, Inc. has become part of The Weather Channel Companies (TWCC). Your weather station data will remain an integral part of our forecast modelling, and we expect that the combined forecast technologies of the two companies will enable us to provide even more accurate custom forecasts for your station. The service that we provide PWS owners on will remain unchanged for now, and will only be improved in the long term.

With the increased audience reach that our union with TWCC provides, we hope to considerably expand our PWS community to further enhance the quality of our weather forecasts. With extra resources at our disposal, we will also be able to provide a greater level of support for our community members.

As always, we thank you for being part of our PWS network, and greatly appreciate all of the data you share with us. You can read my latest blog post for more information about the sale of wunderground to TWCC.

Kind regards,

Dr. Jeff Masters
Director of Meteorology

BMW apologizes for storm

BMW apologized after a PR strategy to pay for the naming rights to a weather system backfired — that system turned into the deep freeze that’s claimed dozens of lives across Europe.

The goal was to promote BMW’s Mini Cooper brand by paying Germany’s meteorological office 299 euros ($392) to name a system “Cooper” — a practice in place since 2002 to help fund weather monitoring work in Germany. Unfortunately for BMW, the system it was assigned to turned out to be a killer.

“Of course we are sorry. It was not intentional, you cannot tell in advance what a weather system will do,” a company spokeswoman told The Independent of London.

Reposted from:

weather forecasters threatened with jail time for bad predictions

Weather forecasters in South Africa could be forced to pay a heavy fine for getting predictions wrong – even up to a decade of imprisonment. They have been threatened with imprisonment and fines of up to R10,000 if they issue incorrect weather warnings without official permission. The proposed new law has been created to prevent panic and economic damage in the community caused by inaccurate predictions of extreme weather such as flash flooding, drought and gale force winds. The amendment has been made to South Africa’s Weather Service Bill so that anyone wishing to issue a severe weather warning first needs to get permission from the official national weather service.

From African Business Review. Topic first heard on NPR’s news quiz, ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ 21 Jan 2012

12/1, 7 PM: U-N-F-O-L-D: Climate Change Art and Science Dating Game @ Parsons

December 1, 2011 7:00 p.m.

An event presented in partnership with PositiveFeedback, a collaboration of The Earth Institute at Columbia University; the Center for Creative Research at NYU; and the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities.

Wondering what brings scientists and artists together on climate change? Join author David Berreby, artist Mary Miss, and environmental researcher Stephanie Pfirman, on their first date—a chance to connect with other artists and scientists as well!

This program is presented in conjunction with the exhibition U-n-f-o-l-d: A Cultural Response to Climate Change. For more information, visit

Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, 2 West 13th Street

Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served
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