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Kentucky Color: Weather's Artful Dance and More

By Billy Joe Fudge

I was a wildland firefighter for the Kentucky Division of Forestry for 30 years. There are three components that affect fire behavior:
  1. Fuels
  2. Topography
  3. Weather
Not being fully cognizant of all three continually can lead to at the very best,
  1. Inefficient and ineffective fire suppression efforts, and can lead to at the very worst,
  2. Injury and or death to one's self or fellow crew members
We trained on a continual basis and over a thirty year career, I now consider myself to hold maybe a minor in meteorology, without the sheepskin to prove it. That is a joke however. A meteorologist forecasts the behavior of the weather in the future but what I was trained to do was observe present weather phenomenon and its effect upon the behavior of wildfires and to use the forecasts to anticipate the future behavior of wildfires.

Having said all that, I have always been fascinated by the complexity of weather while at the same time I am continually fascinated at the simplicity of the artful dance of high pressure and low pressure systems that generate the totality of weather on our planet.

Of course, there are many forces which come to play upon weather such as length of day, sunlight, volcanoes, bodies of water, deserts, ice caps, et al, but lows and highs are the gears of the transmission which transfers the power from the engine to the wheels which make the weather-car roll.

In the Northern Hemisphere, low pressures are rotating counter-clockwise as air rushes in toward the center of lower pressure and forced upward. Conversely, high pressures are rotating clockwise as cool air rushes downward from above and the air is forced out from the center of high pressure. Low pressure systems are like unto a vacuum cleaner which sucks dirty or moist air inward and upward from the surface while the high pressure system is like unto a leaf blower which blows clean or dry air downward and outward on the surface.

So, cool dry air at the surface might be comfortable and desirable but if there is too much and it persists for too long, it could mean that there is not enough moisture to grow crops and we perish. Then, moist warm air rises up to give life giving rain which makes our crops flourish but if there is too much rain and it persists for too long, it could drown our crops and rot them in the fields and we perish.

It's kind of the same thing with our great Democratic Republic; Liberals rotating left and Conservatives rotating right. I have always been fascinated by the complexity of governance while I am continually fascinated at the simplicity of the artful dance of the left and the right that has perpetuated our way of life for nearly 250 years. However, if the power in government rotates too far to the left for too long, the government may balloon too large and consume so much of the GNP that we perish. Similarly, if the power of government rotates too far to the right for too long, government may shrink too small and not serve the needs of our citizenry and we perish.

This story was posted on 2021-05-03 09:47:34
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