Irreverent Skeptics Podcast Episode 10 – Wild and Wacky Weather Wonders

10 - Wild and Wacky Weather Wonders (February 22, 2014)

Originally broadcast February 22, 2014! Hit “Read More” for the ridiculously comprehensive show notes.

JonO’s: Go Fuck Yourself

Denis Solaro from the Irreverent Skeptics G+ community posted a link to an ad for a homeopathic diabetes cure. The ad is accompanied by a link to a site which also plays a video ad for a product that promises you will “learn a little-known, but 100% scientifically-proven way to ERASE your diabetes in 3 short weeks”. I can’t help but notice that neither ad is very forthcoming with the name of the product or even who is selling it exactly. It’s presented, as one would expect, in an authoritative manner, but is sure to include a disclaimer stating that it’s not medical advice.

Youtube- homeopathic diabetes cure

Dat Ain’t No Snow!!!

Lots of goofy videos of people using everything from lighters to arc welders to melt snow and prove that it just “evaporates” and that it scorches. Therefore, NWO Illuminati reptilian Jewish banker 9/11 chemtrail murder.

Phil Plait (The Bad Astronomer) debunks this.

The claim is that the snow that fell on Atlanta [the week of January 27] wasn’t actually snow. It’s unclear what these folks think the powdery white stuff was, but some of the claims involve chemtrails (of course!), mind-altering chemicals, and nanobots.

Here is where it gets weird. Some people went outside and made snowballs. Then—and I have no clue who would think to do this in the first place, but there you go—they held a lighter to the snowball. What they claimed then is that the snow didn’t melt and drip away as you’d expect. That’s odd enough, but then they saw scorch marks on the snowball! Ice can’t burn, so why were there black streaks on the snowballs?

To summarize, two things happen: One is that as the snow melts, the remaining snow absorbs the water. That’s why it doesn’t appear to drip; the snowball becomes a slushball.

Lots of people made videos showing the snowball not dripping so it looks like it’s not actually melting, but this is a classic case of confirmation bias. They only tested this part way; they didn’t finish the test by letting the snowball actually melt! I do that in my video, and you can even see the water getting absorbed into the snowballs I made.

But what about the scorching? Water can’t burn!

Which is true, and it didn’t. The black scorch marks are actually from the lighters themselves.  Butane is a hydrocarbon, a molecule made up of carbon and hydrogen. When you burn it, the molecule reacts with oxygen in the air, breaking the bonds between atoms, and reforming new molecules. If the burning were perfect, all you’d have left is carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20).

But the burning is never completely perfect, and you get other stuff too. One thing that happens is that some of the carbon molecules reform into long chains, creating what we call soot. It’s that stuff that’s collecting on the snowball, not material from the snow itself!


We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk for a minute about this. The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program was an ionospheric research program jointly funded by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the University of Alaska, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The most prominent instrument at the HAARP Station was the Ionospheric Research Instrument, a high-power radio frequency transmitter facility operating in the high  frequency band. Known throughout the conspiracy theory world as a weather control project. Some conspiracy theory allegations include:

  • A Russian military journal wrote that ionospheric testing would “trigger a cascade of electrons that could flip earth’s magnetic poles, comrades.”
  • Nick Begich Jr., the son of former U.S. Representative Nick Begich and author of Angels Don’t Play This HAARP, has claimed that HAARP could trigger earthquakes and turn the upper atmosphere into a giant lens so that “the sky would literally appear to burn”, and maintains that HAARP is a mind control device. Holy fuck, that’s one versatile fucking technology!!
  • Former Governor of Minnesota and one of my favorite conspiracy theorists, Jesse Ventura questioned whether the government is using the site to manipulate the weather or to bombard people with mind-controlling radio waves. If this is so, what the fuck are they making us do? Eat ourselves immobile, watch shitty television, and text ourselves to oblivion? … Come to think of it, it could be working. An Air Force spokeswoman said Ventura made an official request to visit the research station but was rejected – “he and his crew showed up at HAARP anyway and were denied access” I’m sure that played out nicely for him on that episode of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, a television show that I’ve managed to not ever really watch much. I think it’s off the air now anyway.
  • Physicist Bernard Eastlund claimed that HAARP included technology based on his own patents that has the capability to modify weather and neutralize satellites. Again, that is some fucking versatile technology!


CSI article A Million Poisoning Planes

Great source: Contrail Science

  • A brief history of “Chemtrails” has history on the origins of the conspiracy including the first time the word appeared on the web (circa 1999). Also tracks the evolution of the claims – originally just health problems, eventually population reduction and mind control.
  • Debunks the “documentary” What in the world are they spraying?. Supported by this forum thread from Metabunk, which is quite rigorous and detailed.


Massive and sometimes extremely destructive/deadly columns of air which commonly twist into a funnel shape as they reach to the ground from clouds above and can reach speeds in excess of 300 mph (512 kph). Tornados are caused when a low-pressure system’s center draws in cooler, high-pressure air from the surrounding area. This pushes the low-pressure air up to higher altitudes, but then the air heats up and is pushed upward as well by all the air behind it. The air pressure inside of a tornado is as much as 10 percent lower than that of the surrounding air, causing the surrounding air to rush in even faster. Note: this isn’t a very detailed explanation of a tornado and there are links in the show notes if you’d like to read more. Perhaps tornadoes warrant their own episode one day.

Storms which cause tornadoes tend to bring along heavy rain, frequent lightning, strong wind gusts, and hail. They’re typically visible in the form of a condensation funnel, as well as clouds of debris surrounding the base of the funnel.

Some facts about tornadoes:

  • The most powerful tornadoes occur in the United States as well as the most occurrences annually. And if Pat Robertson has taught us anything, it’s because God is angry with the U.S.
  • Tornadoes have been reported in every state in the US, in every season.
  • The only continent to never see tornados is Antarctica
  • Every tornado has its own color, sound and shape.
  • The deadliest tornado occurred in 1925. It swept through three states in the US, killed 689 people, and injured around 2000.
  • Fire tornadoes are not actual tornadoes, but have a similar appearance and occur when a wildfire’s flames are caught in a spiral as they rise into the air above the fire. Also they look like something sent straight from Mordor.

Some Unusual Weather Phenomena

  • Noctilucent Clouds – also known as Polar Mesospheric Clouds are comprised of small ice crystals at altitudes of 80-85 km or 50-53 miles. This is a few km below the coldest part of the atmosphere which is known as the mesopause… Insert climate menopause jokes here. Sunlight scattered across these layers of ice give them a glow which can be seen past sunset. NLCs are thought to be becoming more frequent, brighter and visible at lower altitudes. Human activities are thought to be a possible contributing factor.
  • Aurora Borealis / Australis – Occurring around both the northern and southern magnetic poles, auroras are a beautiful light show provided by nature. One must supply their own musical accompaniment. As highly charged electrons from the solar wind reach earth’s atmosphere, flow through the magnetosphere and strike oxygen and nitrogen atoms they create a visual effect that’s stunning. The colors displayed are determined by what altitude and atoms they encounter and the amount of energy absorbed.
    • Green – oxygen, up to 150 miles
    • Red – oxygen, above 150 miles
    • Blue – nitrogen, up to 60 miles
    • Purple – nitrogen, above 60 miles
  • Mammatus Clouds – Also known as mammatocumulus – meaning “mammary cloud” or “breast cloud” – these are pouch-like structures in clouds formed when heavier air is sinking through clouds. Contrary to common belief, they are not indicative of a forthcoming tornado and in fact are most commonly seen after the heaviest part of a thunderstorm has already passed. Mammatus clouds have differing characteristics that may be related to the type of cloud foundation from which they appear. (read a few, or just mention the link?)
  • St. Elmo’s Fire – is a weather phenomena in which luminous plasma is created by a bunch of recent college graduates who sleep with one another, suffer failing marriages/relationships, find themselves, love, and a new place to eat. Named after St. Erasmus of Formiae, the patron saint of sailors, it sometimes appeared on ships at sea during thunderstorms and was regarded as either a sign of demise or salvation, depending upon any given crew’s disposition and/or religious convictions, I presume. Actually caused by plasma in lightning, which charges the air around an object creating an electric field which in turn ionizes and produces a faint, fiery glow. Roughly 1000 volts per centimeter and Brat Packs induces St. Elmo’s Fire. That, dear people, is sciency. Someone prove me wrong.
  • Pyrocumulus Clouds – Commonly associated with wildfires and volcanos, pyrocumulus clouds are formed when air is heated by the burning and rises along with ash particles to a point of stability where it usually mixes with moisture causing clouds that resemble storm clouds. In fact, very large pyrocumulus clouds can produce lightning. That process isn’t yet fully understood, but is probably associated with charge separation induced by severe turbulence, and perhaps, by the nature of the particles of ash in the cloud. Pyrocumulus clouds have been known to produce rain and help extinguish the very fires that spawned them. Conversely they have also been known to grow large enough to produce lightning which then strikes the ground and starts new fires. And as we all know, that’s god’s punishment for gay marriage, evolving from monkeys, and not acknowledging said petulant god’s existence.
  • Non-aqueous Rain (wut.. I’m dubious and this requires more reading – Lluvia de Peces) – An occurrence where animals are said to be raining from the sky. Frogs, fish, jellyfish, spiders, worms, and even a dismembered cow in California, August 1, 1869 have been reported throughout history. Even as recently as 2013 at the annual Lluvia de Peces (Rain of Fish) in Yoro, Honduras. It’s reported that the annual Festival de Lluvia de Peces is held at a variable date coinciding with the first major rainfall in June or July. Some explanations of how the fish are said to come to be in the clouds are high winds which pick them up from lakes or rivers. Also waterspouts in the ocean are hypothesized as an explanation. However that seems incredibly unlikely given that the nearest ocean is about 140 miles (200km) away and it’s very improbable that waterspouts able to pick up fish would form in the open sea every year in May or June, much less transport said fish so far inland. Some notable claims of non-aqueous rain:
    • Fish: Kerala, India, February 12, 2008
    • Fish: Bhanwad, Jamnagar, India, October 24, 2009
    • Fish: Lajamanu, Northern Territory, Australia, February 25 and 26, 2010
    • Frogs: Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, June 2009 (occurrences reported throughout the month)
    • Frogs: Rákóczifalva, Hungary,June 18-20, 2010 (twice)
  • Katabatic Winds – a generic term for downslope winds flowing from high elevations of mountains, plateaus, and hills down their slopes to the valleys or plains below. There are a number of different types of katabatic winds. Some are caused by air being driven upslope on the windward side of a mountain which drops its moisture and descends drier and warmer on the leeside of the mountain. Some colder katabatic winds are caused by cooler high density air rushing down the slope of a mountain, driven by the force of gravity. Occasionally they can reach hurricane wind speeds, which I think would be pretty damn… cool… to see in person. Katabatic winds are most commonly found blowing out from the large and elevated ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland. The buildup of high density cold air over the ice sheets and the elevation of the ice sheets combine to create massive winds from enormous gravitational energy. They often reach speeds of around 190 mph (300kmh)
  • Ball lightning – Often St. Rob Lowe’s Fire is mistaken as ball lightning, which is a not yet thoroughly explained nor even accepted meteorological event. The term refers to luminous, spherical objects of greatly varying diameters. Most commonly associated with thunderstorms, they’re said to last much longer than the split-second flash of lightning bolts, eventually explode, and leave behind a sulfurous smell afterwards. There are many accounts of ball lightning throughout history and in January of 2014, the first ever optical spectrum of what appears to have been a ball lightning event was published along with a high frame rate video.


24 Hard Facts About 9/11 That Cannot Be Debunked

Hot on the heels of our crossover episode with Mike Bohler’s A Skeptics Guide to Conspiracy, has this list of “facts that cannot be debunked”, which it bears noting have in fact been debunked.

Missing children sacrificed by lizard people and served at McDonalds

So we have more goodness brought to you from the world of David Icke. The person in this video doesn’t represent Icke, mind you. He merely heard this thing from a guy who read this thing.

Snake handling pastor dies from snake bite “Didn’t see that one coming”

Pastor Jamie Coots of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a service recently. The practice is in reference to a verse (just one?!?! – nope Luke 10:19, Acts 28:3, Acts 28:5…) of the bible. Mark 16:18 “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Tom DeLay: Americans Have Forgotten That God Wrote The Constitution

In an interview with Matthew Hagee on his weekly show called “The Difference”, former Congressional Representative Tom Delay stated that a lot of the problems we in the U.S. face stem from the moment when “we allowed our government to become a secular government.” Ugh DeLay stated that Americans have forgotten “that God created this nation and the He wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on biblical principles.Like slavery and woman-hatin’. Double ugh.


Relevant: All Patriots ‘Know’ That Moses Wrote the Constitution

We are in the basement of Our Savior’s Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn, Va. It is Saturday, October 23, ten days before the midterm elections. A group of 50 patriots has gathered for a seminar of “The Making of America,” presented by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. NCCS, headquartered in Malta, Idaho, sends speakers across the country to reveal the truth that liberal elites have hidden about the American form of government. … But what’s striking is how much these people hunger to understand America and its Constitution. “I have a master’s degree,” one man said to me, “and nine-tenths of this information I never got in any formal education. That’s not good when you live in a country that you don’t understand.” There’s a palpable yearning for tools to understand and change the terrible mess we’re in.

Given that curiosity, it’s quite striking that the seminar, which begins at 8:30 a.m., takes until 1:30 to get to the actual Constitution.

That’s because we have to learn the basic truth about the Constitution: God wrote it. It comes directly from the government instituted by Moses when he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt. That system was re-instituted in England around 450 A.D. by the Anglo-Saxon rulers Hengist and Horsa. The Founding Fathers, led by Thomas Jefferson, copied the Constitution directly from the “ancient constitution” of the Anglo-Saxons.

… just for the record, Jefferson didn’t take any part in writing the Constitution. He was in France, and when he read the Constitution he had mixed feelings about it.

But the louder alarm should come from maps and displays in the materials that suggest, without quite saying, that the Anglo-Saxons were in fact the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. On page 20 of our workbook, a map shows an arrow marked “Northern Tribes of Israel,” running from Palestine to the Caucasus region. That arrow stops in 721 B.C.; another arrow begins at the same place at the same time: “Migration of Celts, Angli, Sacki, etc.” It stretches to Northern Europe and then to England. NCCS Founder W. Cleon Skousen’s big textbook, The Making of America, says that “many have thought the Yinglings, or Anglo-Saxons, included a branch of the ancient Israelites because they came from the territory of the Black Sea . . . and because they preserved the same unique institutes of government as those which were given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. But whether related or not, there is certainly irrefutable evidence of a cross-fertilization of laws and cultural values between these two peoples.”

… embodies what historians call the “British Israel” theory–the idea that the English nation, not the Jews of Europe, is the rightful heir of God’s Covenant with Abraham.

… Once the seminar begins marching through the Constitution itself, there aren’t many surprises: regulatory agencies, the Federal Reserve, paper money, national parks, Social Security, Medicare, the Environmental Protection Agency, disaster aid for Katrina victims, hate crime laws–all are flatly unconstitutional. … The Sixteenth Amendment–allowing the income tax–was adopted more or less as a joke. The Seventeenth Amendment–direct election of Senators–must go. The Nineteenth Amendment violated states’ rights by forcing them to give women the vote.


Links And Attributions

Youtube – Snow won’t melt

20 Amazing and Unusual Weather Phenomena

Wikipedia – H.A.A.R.P.

Lluvia de Peces

Wikipedia – Raining Animals

Wikipedia – Lluvia de Peces

When everything rains but water (pics)

Nasa – Strange Clouds

About NLCs, Polar Mesospheric Clouds

How does the aurora borealis work?

Wikipedia – Aurora

Mammatus Clouds

Wikipedia – Mammatus Clouds

Wikipedia – Pyrocumulus Clouds

The Weather Guys – What are pyrocumulus clouds?

Wikipedia – Katabatic Winds

Weather Online – Katabatic Winds

Wikipedia – St. Elmo’s Fire

Wikipedia – Also St. Elmo’s Fire

How Stuff Works – Does ball lightning really exist?

Wikipedia – Ball Lightning

How Stuff Works – How Do Tornadoes Work?

Wikipedia – Tornado

Tornado Facts

Atlas Obscura: Weird Weather Phenomena

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