Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Odds And Ends # (I never kept track)

Supposedly, it snowed around here on Christmas day, but you couldn't prove it by me; I found out through a story on Zero Hedge.  At the time it snowed, I was getting our turkey ready for the smoker as well as the smoker ready for the turkey and the weather here wasn't like they describe.  Animated version of this radar loop at Twitter.

Our local newspaper reports it was the fourth coldest Christmas day in history for Melbourne.  The surprise to me is that I've lived here for #1 through #4.  

Interestingly, the snow got as far south as Miami, rivaling the 1977 event that I've written about before.  There's a 10 second video with the snow actually visible before Sunday's game between the Miami Dolphins and the Green Bay Packers.  In my mind, I see a scene like Crocodile Dundee's, "that's not a knoife..." except it's a Green Bay fan saying, "that's not snow..."

No one was more surprised than I was that I didn't put up a post yesterday. There are couple of big things going on in the ham radio world that distracted me, and when I realized there was no post in process it was too late to do anything.

I spent the first few hours of the evening on the one that tends to be repeatable.  The southern hemisphere just went through their summer solstice, and just like our summer solstice in June, the VHF band I hang out on the most (six meters or 50-54 MHz) is having sporadic E propagation as an almost daily event.  The side effect of that is if someone here wants to have a radio contact (two way communication) with someone in New Zealand (ham prefix ZL) or Australia (VK), this is the time of year to try for it; from early December until around mid-January.

I've been researching this sort of contact and find that my station is rather meager in comparison to most of the guys who have had those contacts.  Still, last night there were guys relatively close to me, one near Orlando and two over on the west coast of Florida, that I could hear having short contacts with ZL and VK.  These guys were the closest people I've come across who had those contacts and while I couldn't hear the other side, they did.  To be honest, to work them is likely to require a healthy dose of luck as well as a good station.

The other big thing is a rare activation of a sub-antarctic island in the southern Indian Ocean, a French possession called the Crozet archipelago or Isles de Crozet.  They're using the call FT8WW.  I'm not sure, much of the documentation is in French, but it appears the last time there was operation from there might have been 1987, so for a large percentage of the ham population it's a new country.  The way propagation has worked out to here, they tend to be audible around the time the windows to ZL/VK are closing.  Between them, I can spend literally four or five hours not contacting anyone.

This group is not the typical activation of an uninhabited island, where a group of well-financed guys basically storm the island and operate for a couple of weeks; they seem to expect to be there until March.  These guys say they're there until January 22nd.  I think that it's a one man operation, so far, but there might be one or more on the way.  How well they're outfitted for coping with failing equipment and how long they expect to be operating, I can't answer.  

Finally, the last launch for '22 from the Cape, appears on schedule for 4:40 AM EST tomorrow (Wednesday) morning from SLC-40. This is the SpaceX Starlink Group 5-1 mission, and will be the 10th flight for this booster.  SpaceX's last mission of the year is still scheduled for Friday morning at 1:58 AM eastern time, 10:58 PM Thursday night local time, from Vandenberg SFB SLC-4E. 


  1. Stupid Mullet-Wrapper. Seriously, the Christmas it snowed in Satellite Beach? That was 12-25-73. On the beach (well, 4 blocks or so west of the actual beach.) Thermometer was reading 29 degrees.

    The snow fell from maybe earlier than 7am to around 9am. How do I know this? I watched it as I ate Christmas breakfast and unwrapped presents and stuff. Snow fell... got to about 1/2" above the ground and melted. Or hit the window and melted.

    Wasn't a heavy snowfall, more like if snow could mist or fog, wispy little flakes.

    First time I ever got hit by hail was also in Satellite Beach, well, Indian Harbor Beach, really, while riding from school to home, left little bloody welts, very painful and cold.

    1. Whenever I see any record like that I assume it means at the airport weather station, not reports of or witnesses of the same from around town. The NWS guys at the airport keep those records.

    2. Hint: If it's snowing on the Beaches, it's definitely snowing at the airport in Melbourne. Beaches run warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer for sum strange reason.

      It's likely due to 'loss of records.' Which is why 1989 has basically disappeared from Gainesville records. Actively lost, even though I vividly remember not getting a paycheck till 6pm because Gainesville's airport was iced over by 2pm and UPS couldn't land here but could at Jacksonville and drive over. Fun times.

  2. Elegant proof of global cooling - and the onset of a new ice age.

    1. At one time, in the late 1800's, pineapple was king in Florida, all along the eastern coast, which helped fund the expansion of the Florida East Coast railroad. Then it got too cold for pineapple and Florida switched to Citrus.

      Come the killing frosts from 1973 to 1976, and all the orange groves north of Orlando, and lots below whOrlando, froze. From the Florida-Georgia line down, dead orange groves.

      Was depressing driving up from Satellite Beach and seeing dead groves after dead groves. Even more depressing was watching them being replaced by McMansions and other housing developments.

    2. So, yeah, global warming cooling climate change. Whooptie do.

    3. I live a long walk from a street called Pineapple Avenue along the Indian River. Local lore is that there used to be pineapple plantations there.

      I've read before that there used to be citrus groves as far north as Jacksonville, but as the winters got colder, the northern limits moved south. I planted three citrus trees in my yard: orange, grapefruit, and lemon. They were all planted in the early to mid '80s, and all killed by freezes by the '90s.

      Do you remember or did you know Harvey Groves up in Rockledge? They closed in '17 and got demolished last week.

      I think it always come down to a question of which is more profitable: sell the land or keep farming it. When the question gets forced on the landowners, well...

    4. Used to stop at Harvey Groves on the way north after Christmas with the family and pick up seconds (not good enough for the store.) Like 5-8 grocery bags (paper) full of oranges, grapefruit, lemons and tangerines.

      Go home and make marmelades and give them to friends and eat until full.

      There were orange groves up north of I-10 visible on I-75.

      Just south of Gainesville, on 441, there's a scenic overlook building, used to be the Grove store, but by mid 70's only overlooked vast groves of dead trees.

      Sad, very sad. Global warming don'tcha know.

      At the house in Gville, we had a tangerine tree that was grown from thrown-out seeds. It was protected from wind and frost by other trees and produced greatly. Other places in Gainesville have great citrus, the key being protecting the trees from wind and frost. I harvest key-limes every year from a tree behind the apartment complex where I currently live.

      But groves north of Orlando, even the famous Indian River groves? Gone, all gone. Dammit.

  3. Yeah, but the forecast for the next 7 days looks like early spring here in VA.

  4. Same here. It'll be 80 +/- 2 from tomorrow until next Thursday.

  5. I remember the snow in 1977. We were living in Clearwater, and we got four full inches on the driveway. Unfortunately, because I like snow, I spent the next several years waiting in vain for some more.

    1. I never knew any place in Florida got that much snow that day. I lived in Ft. Lauderdale at the time, working in Deerfield Beach - about a dozen miles north. It was just flurries swirling around in the air.

    2. We got less than an inch in Pensacola, but most everything shut down when the schools did. My brothers and sisters weren't allowed to walk home by themselves. My mother had to walk over and walk back with them. We had just moved down from Gander, Newfoundland (there was a CAF base there with a comm/signals intelligence site co-operated with the US Navy's NSG and the NSA), so we were scornful in the extreme. -- Larry

  6. Looking for that rare QSL card, eh?

    FIL was at Tampa one year when it snowed 1/2" (about a cm) and he walked the block to Dale Mabry highway and plopped down in his lawn chair and watched all the crazies going to/from MacDill AFB. Quite the show, he said!

    SpaceX wants to do more than 100 flights/year next year - and they can DO it, too!