Dennis’ Tidbits



May 27, 2014


Dr. McTighe – more on Thunderstorms

Where was I…Oh, yea, thunderstorm development.

Anyhow, the pattern of the vertical air movement in the center of the cumulus or cumulonimbus cloud system mimics the behavior of each convective cell. Most thunderstorms have, at maturity, a series of several cells, each following a life cycle characterized by changes in wind direction, development of precipitation and electrical charge, and other factors.

In the first stages of thunderstorm development, an updraft drives warm air up beyond condensation levels, where clouds form, and where continued upward movement produces cumulus formations. The updraft develops in a region of gently converging surface winds in which the atmospheric pressure is slightly lower than in surrounding areas. As the updraft continues, air flows in through the cloud’s sides in a process called entrainment, mixing with and feeding the updraft. The updraft may be further augmented by a chimney effect produced by high winds at high altitudes.

A developing thunderstorm also feeds on another source of energy. Once the cloud has formed, the phase changes of water result in a release of heat energy, which increases the momentum of the storm’s vertical development. The rate at which this energy is released is directly related to the amount of gaseous water vapor converted to liquid water.

As water vapor in the burgeoning cloud is raised to saturation levels, the air is cooled sufficiently to liberate solid and liquid particles of water, and rain and snow begin to fall within the cloud. The cloud tower rises above 1.8-3.1 miles where fibrous streamers of frozen precipitation elements appear; this apparent ice phase is thought to be a condition of thunderstorm precipitation. The formation and precipitation of particles large enough and in sufficient quantity to fall against the updraft marks the beginning of the second, mature state of a thunderstorm cell.

A thunderstorm’s mature stage is marked by a transition in wind direction within the storm cells. The prevailing updraft, which initiated the cloud’s growth is joined by a downdraft generated by heavy precipitation. The downdraft is fed and strengthened, as the updraft was, by the addition of entrained air, and by evaporational cooling caused by interactions of entrained air and falling precipitation. 

The mature storm dominates the electrical field and atmospheric circulation for several miles around. Lightning- the discharge of electricity between large charges of opposite signs occurs soon after precipitation begins, a clue to the relationship of thunderstorm electrification and formation of ice crystals and raindrops.

At maturity, a thunderstorm cloud is several miles across its base and may tower to altitudes of 40,000 feet or more. Some super cell thunderstorms can reach distances of 15-20 miles wide at their base and climb as high as 55,000 feet on some occasions. The swift winds of the upper troposphere shred the cloud top into the familiar anvil form, visible in dry regions as lonely giants, or as part of a squall line.

On the ground directly beneath a storm system, the mature stage is initially felt as rain, which is soon joined by the strong downdraft. The downdraft spreads out from the cloud in gusting, divergent winds and brings a marked drop in temperature. Even where the rain has not reached the ground, a thunderstorm’s mature stage can be recognized by this cold air stream flowing over the surface. 

This is nature’s warning that a thunderstorm is in its most violent phase. It is in this phase that a thunderstorm unleashes its lightning, hail, heavy rain, high wind, and most destructive of all- its tornado. But even as it enters maturity, the storm has begun to die. The violent downdraft initially shares the circulation with the sustaining updraft, then strangles it. As the updraft is cut off from its converging low level winds, the storm loses its source of moisture and heat energy. Precipitation weakens, stops, and the cold downdraft ceases. 

And the thunderstorm, violent creature of an instant, spreads and dies. 

Whew! I’m getting brain cramps. 

See you on Friday, ALOHA!

CERT training exercise for disaster preparedness on May 31 at 7:30 a.m. for all South County coastal cities

The San Juan Capistrano Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) will conduct its annual training exercise for members on May 31 in an effort to hone disaster response skills.

San Juan CERT has invited CERT teams from Dana Point, San Clemente, and Laguna Beach, as well as the Tri-Cities RACES communications team to join the exercise. In all, about 200 people are expected to participate.

CERT members will converge on the San Juan Capistrano City Hall in their signature green vests, hats and helmets and bearing equipment and supplies required of those responding to emergencies.  The exercise will run from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. CERT members will practice their skills in medical/first aid, small fire suppression, light search and rescue, logistics and communications.

Terrie Sheldon, CERT volunteer from San Juan Capistrano and Team Leader for the joint exercise, said “CERT teams provide extra assistance during a disaster when first responder resources are overwhelmed.  Their CERT training provides them with the skills to take care of their immediate families and also help their neighbors during emergency situations.”

San Juan Capistrano has trained over 600 CERT members, Laguna Beach, in just its third year of operation, just over 100, Dana Point 400, and San Clemente 120. Tri-Cities RACES has 45 certified radio operators in its group.

Residents interested in learning more about the CERT program should contact San Juan Capistrano at 949-234-4565, San Clemente at 949-361-6109, Dana Point at 949-248-3579, and Laguna Beach at 949-497-0356.


Regan Philip Hess



Laguna Beach

My friend and local homeless man Regan Philip Hess, 48, died as the result of injuries he received crossing Coast Hwy at Mountain Road on May 21. He was just a few feet away from the curb to the side of the street he was heading to when a SUV hit him. Regan Hess was rushed to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo. 

He suffered severe brain injury, fractured pelvis, broken back and neck. He was on life support until May 23, 2014. Mr. Hess had a Medical Directive in place regarding his final wishes. At 2:15 p.m. that day, he was removed from life support and passed away quietly at 8:07 p.m. 

Regan leaves behind his mother in Corona del Mar, brother of Aliso Viejo, sisters, one in Oregon and two in Texas, uncle, niece, nephews and numerous friends in Laguna Beach. 

He loved the ocean and he loved Laguna Beach.

Rest In Peace Regan Philip Hess.

Shavuot Holiday Service, reading of the Ten Commandments, ice cream and kids program at Chabad Jewish Center June 4 & 5

Chabad Jewish Center welcomes the community to a special Shavuot Service on Wednesday, June 4, beginning at 10:30 a.m. with special Holiday prayers, reading of the Ten Commandments at noon, followed by dairy lunch!  Ice Cream party and holiday program for community kids at 4 p.m.

Yizkor Memorial Services will take place on Thursday, June 5 at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Shavuot is the second of the three major festivals (Passover being the first, and Sukkot being the third), and comes exactly fifty days after Passover. The word Shavuot means “Weeks”.  It marks the completion of the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot during which the Jewish people prepared themselves for the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Some customs of the Shavuot holiday include the decoration of homes and synagogues with fragrant flowers and greenery in honor of the beautiful blooms that grew on Mt. Sinai.  Another custom includes an all night Torah Study on the first night of Shavuot, and eating dairy foods such as cheesecake, cheese blintzes, etc.

Chabad is located at 30804 Coast Hwy, across from Montage Laguna Beach.  

For more information regarding this Holiday and detailed schedule of services, please visit our Shavuos megasite at or (949) 499 - 0770.

Transportation survey due date extended to June 6

The City of Laguna Beach is conducting a survey of residents to determine transportation needs that might be addressed by modifying the City’s transit system. 

The survey due date is being extended two weeks from May 23 to June 6 because of a delay in the distribution of mailed surveys. 

A community outreach meeting to review and receive public input on transit and other citywide mobility programs will take place at 6 p.m. on June 10 at the Community and Susi Q Senior Center.

Saturday’s March Against Monsanto

Click on photo for a larger image


Dennis Rooney

About 100 people marched in an orderly fashion along Coast Highway next to Main Beach in the overcast of last Saturday morning. More than 400 cities worldwide saw similar protests against chemical manufacturer Monsanto.

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