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Sunday, May 14, 2017

4-4-17 Wind Direction Explainer

Idlib CW Massacre 4-4-17:
The When and Where
Wind Direction Explainer
May 14-16, 2017
last edits June 17

There are many serious problems with the opposition story of an April 4 sarin airstrike in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib province. While many of these are quite clear and worth pursuing, perhaps the best chance of smoking gun proof is the wind direction problem, as first explained at The When and Where and as I show it again below.

According to the alleged survivors and activist/terrorist sources, the sarin was released from one particular and well-known spot in the town's northeast, and the people affected and killed lived, mainly or largely, to the southwest of that spot. Naturally, released sarin would spread on the prevailing wind, so the opposition/terrorist story line requires a wind blowing to the southwest.

However, in all presented videos of the alleged airstrike, the prevailing wind was clearly to the northeast. So their presented evidence has a serious fatal flaw - all these stories are connected to an alleged wind direction that's not just different from but opposite to the visually evident one.

<add 5-16> The direction has to be changed slightly, a few degrees further to the north. Revised range: 30-45 degrees.  The "opposite" part is slightly less clear now, but otherwise...<end 5-16>
<add June 1>Belated graphic update - this is the revised map, replacing the original, which showed a narrower core range from 40-50 degrees. As noted below, an incorrect filed of view placement caused that error. </end>

All those presented stories they have in the purple area must be false (or at least some part of that story, as it stands, must be wrong). To me, this seems like the argument to lead with in countering the terrorist narrative. Clearly this matters enough to explain in some detail. That's emphasized by the resistance I've gotten from fellow opposition-story doubters, who try to claim there's no wind, etc. It's become clear to me most people don't understand how to read things like this, even with tips. So for this case, and for future reference, here's how you say what direction the wind is moving in a post-attack blast-plume video, as I did it with input from others, in the Khan Sheikhoun case.

Tips: (to Orbi on Twitter):
* Look for left-right changes, for any sign of movement towards or away (harder to find and be sure of), know basic FOV,* estimate.
* field of view
* Find other views if possible. When we know it's moving, but appears not to from another angle, that's invisible movement, towards or away.
* Crunch all the considerations, like a 3-D puzzle in 2-D, which it is, draw a few lines, measure, consider, check confidence, and set range.
* Precision math is ideal, but I usually skip it. Visual-based accuracy gets you in the right sector at least, and not randomly confused. End.

Main videos:
* North camera, 3 plumes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYOMEDK_uVs
* west camera, plumes 1 and 2: https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/middleeast/100000005063944/syria-chemical-attack-russia.html
* west camera, plume 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTx0kmQnZLw
* North camera, fog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWvDisOxJi0

* CNN, N cam, 3 plumes and fog scene, better resolution, at start of horrible video report.

The Scene: for reference throughout, the big map of most things ... mapped. The three camera angles shown (roughly) in light blue are especially helpful to refer to in understanding the material below.Note: this is just a basic idea graphic - it's fairly accurate but not precise, so don't cite the exact angles shown here. Better notes are included in the text below.

Same-day note: there's a strong tendency to assume all relevant video must be irrelevant, and actually from various wrong days. That's possible, but for many intensive tries, I've seen some patently bogus arguments and no good ones to prove that contention. Usually, wrong-day videos get exposed and proven within a few days or never, and it;s been over a month.

But luckily for us debunkers, that's not the only debunk available. Even if terrorists faked all their videos on the right day, they're still fake and that can still likely be shown. And even if it's just "according to the opposition's evidence," that clearly matters enough to consider, being so widely accepted and triggering US military strikes, etc.. So far it seems the wrong-dayers are scraping for reasons to not seriously consider it, leaving themselves completely empty-handed, and often with poor understanding and confused logic when it comes to trying to analyze these videos like they deserve. So... I'm doing it largely by myself, but taking scattered input from others.

And here's what we can say about the wind direction in the video presented as showing this alleged sarin attack. Here's the fatal internal contradiction in that evidence package, even if we *accept* or have it proven that it's relevant to April 4 after all...  

The Crater
Note in the map above the dark blue marked crater is not in the northern camera's field of view. Since that video never pans far enough left, we never see if there's a blast plume or anything at that spot at the time of attack. Most likely then, there was no dramatic blast plume, or they'd show it (and it would destroy the alleged sarin, and leave a bigger crater than we see).

Perhaps something else, like the alleged non-explosive sarin release, happened here. But if so, on the northeast edge of town, the wind would blow it further off frame and away from all the alleged victims. It provides no supporting clues about the wind, but all the other points available prove what it would show too. So this allegedly central spot is irrelevant to all the visual wind-based evidence considered, and will be almost totally absent from the analysis, except when it comes time for comparison between the opposition story and what we see.

Plumes 1 and 2, North View
This is the video of the two northern blast plumes, filmed from a distance to the north , facing mostly south, or about 21 degrees east of that. The following comparison of frames is from the better resolution CNN video.

Lined-up like this, it's clear all features of these smoke clouds angle to the left as they rise. The effect is quite minor at the bottom (already some distance above the actual ground), but takes hold around then, so each step up is a half-step to the left. This slant shows a mild but steady wind applied all the way up. There's clearly a higher speed at the upper levels, more to the left, turning the slant into a curve.

The same wind will prevail as it can everywhere, even at the cluttered surface. See too the low white cloud at right that seems to be expanding in all directions, for some reason, but on the left side we see what looks more like thinning drift further to the left. Being so low, it's a mild effect.

That all says this wind is partly at least to the (approximate) east. But this is just one component in the 2-dimensinal mapping. That's the clearer movement you see on the left-right axis, not the less obvious changes along the towards-or-away-from-the-camera axis. There may be a huge amount of relatively unseen movement, defining its actual direction and adding to its actual speed; that's a movement along both axes in real space, NOT left-to-right on your screen. But still, it can be gauged some from there, especially if you get more views... 

This is harder to show, but the smoke in this view seems to be moving slightly to moderately towards the camera, as well as clearly to the left. I'll leave it there for now, as other points below show that was a correct impression.

Field of View notes: relative to the minaret right of center above, the camera is facing app. 21 degrees east of due south, So left = 69 degrees on the compass, not due east, and towards the camera would be about 339 on the compass, not 360/0. The true movement of the wind is some mix of these two directions

Plume 3
More distant blast plume #3 is seen in the northern view, but not in much detail. A nearer camera somewhere in the west or northwest of the city gets some very useful views. The line of view and filming spot aren't certain, but about as mapped at top. This is facing south, or S-SE to see plume 3 in the distance - and the unexplained black smoke cloud further to the southwest.
The shape of plume 3 is interesting. I think that Mushroom cap means it was quite hot and rose fast, and might be a fuel-air or thermobaric explosion (as with the above). Also note the bend of the heat column the particles are rising on - first almost vertical-seeming, but angled barely to the right, when it was a fireball of the projectile's detonation. (slightly right from this point of view means south - possibly fired from the north - but above it's seen from more like due north, and bends more to the right, suggesting a westward ban - so fired from the north and east).

At a certain height, that slant changes. That will be the wind. From there, it all drifts steadily to the left.

In close-up - detail on the churning base suggests movement towards the camera, but that's more likely from blast and fire dynamics. Higher up, its movement on the towards-away axis isn't clear. If the wind were to the northeast, it would move almost totally left from this view, with less movement towards or away.

Field of View notes: filming location and exact line of sight to plume 3 are not set, but seems very close to the angle above - so left = around 70 degrees E-NE, and the towards-away axis is likewise rotated about 20 degrees from north-south.

Plume 1 and 2, Side-View
Videos sent to the New York Times show plumes 1 and 2 from a nearly perpendicular view, from the west-southwest facing east-northeast. Some note here there seems to be almost no wind. It does appear almost motionless, but it's not - it's moving just as fast, and in just the same direction as it was in reality, and as partly seen in the other view.

There's a mild movement to the left visible, but that's too slight to be its true speed. So an unclear but major amount of its movement must be on the axis of towards or away from the camera. Consider with the north views a clear drift to the left, so here it must be x amount away from the camera. I thought there was movement towards the lens as seen from the north, and here we see a consistent, but slight drift to the left. That left aspect - and part of the forward aspect - both equate to "towards" a northern camera, confirming that impression.

Since so much of the movement is away from the camera here, the wind direction is close to its field of view, and seems the best measure to determine the proportion of north and east movements into a defined direction. So I tried to set that.

Note 5/15: But I did it wrong (it happens sometimes), and it slightly affects the map above ...

<Add 5/16>I'll give the whole story, for lessons learned. I first set up proportions of view between minaret, plume 1, and plume 2 (in left-to-right order), using Q's located damage associated with attack, then found an angle that matched those distances they marked, but forgot to remember WHAT each mark meant, and traced a view that would show plume 1-minaret-plume 2. That mistake gave me a heading of 56 degrees. Then I did it more "carefully" but just as wrong to get 57 (bottom image here - marks on gray bar, yellow circle to mimic rotation I can't do in MS paint). 

I noticed the basic error when I tried to correct Michael Kobs, who showed a line of sight from further to the southwest, facing 49 degrees (map on Twitter - camera 3). That may not be exact, but at least he drew his lines in the right order (see top - purple points to minaret, plume 1, plume 2). 

Re-considering now, I did a good proportional set-up or looking again, set the plume originss too far south in the view, affecting lineup, so minaret and plume 1 would roughly line up. At least as I copied them here in purple lines (top image) Kobs' lines for minaret and plume 1 are even further apart. So 49 seems a good angle, but perhaps 50 or 51 is better.  My original 56-57 is out.
Still, as I found before, the wind is blowing mostly away from this camera, so mostly northeast, just 7 or so degrees more to the north than I first thought. The slight left drift relative to that line means the compass heading is some degrees lower/more northerly. By how much is hard to say, but probably 10-15 degrees or so. In that way I earlier estimated 40-50 degrees. As I refine it north, I'll take the chance to loosed it a bit too. Now, I estimate the wind movement we see is in a simplified range of 30-45 degrees, northeast to NNE. <end 5/16>

Field of View notes: app. 50 degrees view would mean away from the camera has the same compass heading, obviously, while left = 320 degrees NW.

Plume bend and northern-firing note: Also note here the same kind of bend between the lower and upper parts of the smoke as seen with plume 3, but even clearer. This is an initial slant to the right, so to the south. In fact the view is rotated a bit (the minaret isn't straight up) so that the south direction is actually more pronounced when looking at it level (it appears slightly more vertical here than it really is).

<add 6-17>There are some who see this lower slant to the right and decide this must be the apparent wind direction. This was put best by Bubslug in this ACLOS discussion where I held my view and came up with this sample graphic to explain why we must be looking at two forces to explain what we see - which is actually a curve, not a simple slope. The force from the right that seems to increase at altitude must be wind. The force from the left that prevails near ground could be a drastically different wind or, much more likely, the trail blazed by the ignition fireball, due to blast dynamics and perhaps the munition's trajectory.
<end 6-17>

This slant is perhaps because the rockets responsible were fired from the north, as we saw with plume 3. This bend isn't visible in the north view of the smoke columns because it's roughly along that line of sight. That could mean the rockets were fired form about where this cameraman captures the aftermath, putting the bend in an invisible direction (away from the lens). And of course he would know that, if they had flown right over his head.

We don't discuss the famous crater here, as it has no attack time visuals to consider wind by. But the pavement damage suggests it may have been hit by some rocket that was fired from a bit west of north. This is pretty consistent, and interesting especially if the Syrian jets only passed south of the city, as US radar tracks seem to show. 

This might be me just trying too hard, but fact is, all these possible signs point the same way, and that pops out for me as potentially quite interesting. Maybe I imagined it, but maybe not, and someone else can see it clearer and make a real case out of it. 

Plume Diffusion and Wind Change
The plumes should eventually drift away on the prevailing wind, with the tops going first and getting fuzzier, and finally as the outpouring from the blast site peters off, the last columns will fade and slant away.

This isn't shown much, but among the western views sent to the NYT  is this, with the same basic view, of plume 1 and/or 2 mostly gone, nearing the last moments of visibility. Here we see a heavy slant to the left, so the wind is more to the north than before. (note: rotation of view, as noted above, may apply here and affect the true slant, by a little bit).

The breeze may have sped up in both directions, or just shifted more of its speed onto the north axis. That's not clear. But higher speed would have those plumes drift off-frame faster than you would expect. Also, far below that, we see some kind of dingy white smoke or mist seeming to spread pretty far to the left/north, don't we? Noting this view does look over the area of the famous crater, it's possible we're seeing mist related to that spot, as well as to another we'll discuss next as we consider this stuff.

The White Fog Shows the Wind
This is an area of some difficulty for me. I can't help but connect the attack-time "white cloud" of low vapor to the later-seen "winter fog" blanketing the whole town, but so far no one agrees with me, arguing it's a natural morning mist, or simply trapped smoke from the attack (and I agree it's partly the latter, and maybe a bit of mist too, but... we can skip all that here).

This is the scene at attack time (top, 'white cloud' visible to the left of the tel, or flat hill). Below is the same view after the big plumes blew away and the fog had spread. Higher elevation sunlight says this scene is later, but not my much - it was a rapid change, in perhaps 15-25 minutes. It's hard to be more exact.

The way it's spread shows the same NE wind prevailed in that time. On the the left side (nearer, more northern part) direction is not not very clear - if we take the original 'white cloud' as its center, it's drifted a bit to the right, a lot to the left, and some amount to the north (towards the camera). If this were vapor pushed out by a machine or a very hearty chemical bomb, it might crowd the air with particles, pushing them to expand more than a drifting plume would, including against the wind.  Again, it's hard to show in a still image, but I can see movement in the fog here, and it's to the left and perhaps towards the camera.

But the southwest view always showed the wind more clearly, just by its shape. On a distant slope, we can see this area in more of a foreshorteded overview. The improved version from the CNN video, below, clarifies what I already saw there, and labeled here - a wind to the northeast spread the copious white mist emerging from a small, unknown area SW of Khan Sheikhoun. As it spreads to the left and towards the camera, the massive column is divided by a hill into a more eastern and a more northern stream.  (see topo map here, thanks to a comment - that must be the larger e-w ridge south of a smaller one at the south edge of town.)

The yellow lines somewhat mark an area of thinner vapor spread more to the north, perhaps due to the later north-shift in the wind noted above. If so, it seems the bulk of the flow we see has already spread in a pattern more like what my 40-50 measure would predict. Where things go from this is unseen and uncertain. I have a hunch the "fog machines" were turned off by the time of that video and all wee is the maximum size just drifting. Odd, in fact how little of the actual spread they show, Maybe they filmed it but decided it looked bad and so never released it?

Wind Speed:
I have no experience measuring the speed of winds ...I'd say it's not fast but not that slow either. Remember each visible movement is just part of its true speed along TWO axes, one mostly invisible. If you don't think you can gauge the towards-away direction, try doubling the left-right speed you see. That's likely closer to the true one.

A credible source estimates a 2 or a 3 on the Beaufort scale describes what we see (light breeze/gentle breeze - Wikipedia). That seems right to me. At Beaufort 1, 4-7 mph, leaves rustle, wind vanes move. Beaufort 2, 8-12 mph, leaves "in constant motion; light flags extended." The middle speeds (6-8 mph) seem a good range, for what's at ground level. The upper level winds are clearly faster, but in the same direction, and not as relevant to fog spread. (even at Beaufort 1, "Direction shown by smoke drift but not by wind vane.")

Other Spread Factors:
Topography, fog density, and obstacles (houses, walls, etc.) will all provide their own directives to any spreading fog. They can't ignore and override the wind, but would 'negotiate' with it, and cause some general spreading in non-wind directions, and into lower elevations when different ones are available. So the spread pattern will never be just a straight narrow band right along the wind. 

But most would say, and many have said about this attack, and it's mostly true - the wind is the main difference in who lives and dies. That includes a wind that never appears, dooming anyone who lives near the site in all directions, and especially anyone downhill. As the CBC reported, after hearing from Alaa al-Yousef, he and his family "were lucky, the wind went in the other direction, Alyousef said." 

Weather Predictions 
(June 11) Added Dr. Postol found a wind to the northwest, rather than northeast, by using an online prediction, I'm not sure from what source. Charles Wood advises me (here and here) that such predictions aren't to be trusted; "Fake news meets FAKE WEATHER! ... Only METARS are actual observations. Waste of time to discuss." Unfortunately, METARS reading aren't available for anywhere closer than Latakia and Damascus. 

I agree predictions shouldn't be read as gospel (like Postol does, declaring the attack video must be from another day, since we can be sure the prediction it correct). However, it's possible there's some value in them anyway. Say there was a real weather pattern they identified, but screwed up on just when it would appear. In the video, we see a wind to the north-northwest, later shifting more to the north. In proper terms (origin, or blowing from), that would be S-SW shifting to more south. 

Interesting then that whatever Postol cited, it shows that same pattern on April 4, but at the very start of it, in the midnight to 3 am time frame - S-SW, then south. It's possible this is the same wind, just predicted to hit the area about 4-5 hours earlier than it did. Clear conditions and cold temperature seem to match the video. But the speed is predicted a bit lower - 4 mph and then 3, when observation suggests it was about 6 to maybe 7 or 8 mph. Still, this could be the pattern we see guessed from afar. And it could be a fluke, a stopped-clock-almost-right effect, within a totally useless record.

Summary of Wind Findings: 
* All visual signs says the day's breeze, at the time of attack and much of the fog spread afterwards, was to the north and east. The best measure is the view around 50 degrees, from which the wind was first blowing mostly away (line of sight almost = wind direction). So at a bit less than 50 degrees, the best simple, rounded range is 30-45 degrees. That most likely contains the true, initial direction.

* An initial wind speed of 6-8 mph at ground level seems reasonable. At upper levels, the speed is considerably higher, but in the same basic direction and not very relevant.

* The later fog video (interval unclear - probably 15-25 minutes) shows the same basic direction prevailed during the minutes of fog spread.

* By then, however, it seems the wind had shifted to a more northerly direction- the effect of that on the overall spread is unclear, but likely minimal.

* These findings are the best yet, being based on a direct visual recording of the day's winds, not on any kind of prediction, guess, or erred reading, and using several placed views, all carefully considered together. The broad range (lime green lines) is more than certain to contain the initial breeze, and most likely includes the most north-blowing variation as well.  Any relevant winds outside that range won't be far off. This can be used, with reasonable confidence, to compare other evidence in the opposition's presented case. This is just what I've already done, finding the mapped "downwind" homes where people are said to be affected and to die, were placed just about exactly in the opposite direction for the way they should be.

So ... the Opposition Narrative Got it Backwards
Back to the image we started with comparing green and purple areas - knowing the wind is undeniably to the northeast - the other half of that picture is what opposition acticvists and alleged survivor-witnesses claim to be the affected area, at least via the homes they've shown that we can place on the map.

Here, I'll try to clarify that reading, or see if it's already "too clear" and needs adjustments. The wind direction is never spelled out per se, that I've seen (as in "the wind drifted the sarin cloud to the southwest...") But this is just what they would say, it seems so far.

Alaa al-Yousef: "the strike was really close to my house" (HRW) He also said the blast woke them up, being "only a few hundred metres away." (CBC) That's not close enough to matter, nor specified which way except to say, "They were lucky, the wind went in the other direction, Alyousef said." So they didn't live to the northeast. "The" other way could be any other way, not necessarily the opposite way. (Alaa also says 'There was no bad smell," agreeing with his famous cousin he runs media relations for, and disagreeing with most other witnesses)

Mohamed Nejdat al-Yousef ran into toxic fog that then "was blown downwind toward his farm outside the village," badly affecting his family. (NYT) So by the accepted video record, carefully read, his farm is northeast of town. Could be, since that's farmland, but it's not specified. Furthermore, it's possible some witnesses - maybe him - are telling it like it is, while others (likely a majority of those put forward) are working on a false script.

Ahmad al-Helou "saw the plane drop a bomb and the bomb falling until it hit the ground. The bomb fell in front of the bakery," probably meaning the place south of the grain silos, so the famous crater. It didn't blow up, but "he saw the bomb kick up yellowish smoke that spread in the prevailing wind." (HRW report) So, as the video proves, he should mean to the northeast, but it's not specified.

An Al Jazeera video report (here via Twitter) shows a map, apparently, of where people died, in three adjacent areas all west of the famous crater (This is shown here with my points added). The big label says "While the eastern areas were the least densely populated." (credit: Saleh) So they don't say it's the wind, like it might've spread everywhere, and this is just where the people were, or maybe it was magnetically attracted to the more populated areas, or the wind blew that way. Their reasoning is unclear.

This map adds whole broad areas that make no sense, but apparently they mean some victims in the northern blocks died, probably on the southern edge. Just by geolocation, from video where that's possible, we have six locations, one in the southern NE block, and the rest in the southern block. So perhaps this image we've formed is too clear in its SW orientation. But a spread much wider makes little sense anyway.  So while they seem to say just west, al-Jazeera's people would probably agree with the prevailing picture of a wind to the southwest, which is roughly opposite of correct.

In more detail: The unnamed family said to die in a sparsely-furnished basement apartment furthest north, could almost be gassed no matter the wind, from being so close to impact. Or maybe not almost... anyway, they probably couldn't be, if the wind was blowing away. Everyone else was even further upwind. 'Abu Rabeaa' has the home furthest south. It should be in the plume as well, but he says he was hit while out in the neighborhood. Abdelhamid al-Yousef, the most famous witness, has the home furthest from the crater, furthest upwind, and unlikely to be effected by the WC - Amira Saleh's children (next furthest site) were said to be taken to Yousef's home before they died there with his family (ACLOS). So that site really matters. Where did that alleged sarin blow in from?

With a northern shift, wind could blow from the "white cloud" spot directly over the easternmost of these homes - but maybe only after most of it already spread a different way - and it would spread wider than directly over on the wind, as it hit and wrapped around buildings, etc. and especially if the fog was dense, as if pressurized (particle crowding), as it seems it was to start with (see the white cloud). I may try a graphic for it, but for now I'll just note either way and from whatever spot, the white fog covers probably this whole area to differing degrees. So these homes being filled with that white mist could make sense. Just what that was remains unclear - from the massive volume, at least we can say it's unlikely to be pure sarin.

But as presented, with this one NE crater specified as the release point, it falls apart quite nicely. It's not just wrong, but 180 degrees opposite of true. And so, as I've already noted, it seems quite likely the opposition/terrorist planners of this operation got it exactly backwards; an accurate measure of the wind was verbally reported as a southwest wind (the proper terminology, meaning FROM the southwest), and mapped their fake story based on a northeast wind (blowing TO the southwest). Because somehow, elaborate victim stories pop up like well-fertilized mushrooms along a strip exactly UPWIND from the highlighted crater.

This would be the same error we were just familiarized with in Dr. Ted Postol's work on this very case. First, he found an inaccurate prediction of a wind to the NW at attack time, and mapped it as to the southeast (then later corrected it to the second wrong direction he's used as the basis for important arguments). Here, the opposition's dimwitted activists may have pulled a collective Postol, or the guy with too much centralized authority made the error everyone else just didn't know to catch.

It's quite possible this is some other kind of error that coincidentally comes out opposite of true, or that it's even a deliberate mistake, as a sort of trap (it occurs to me, but I'm "too paranoid" like that). But I like this basic error explanation. It is an uncanny fit and, as we just learned, an easy enough mistake to make.

A ridiculous allegation like this, with obvious and sloppy lies at its core, was the basis for president Trump's much-hailed humanitarian airstrikes. These killed and wounded some civilians and some soldiers/airmen, and destroyed some homes and some materiel used in Syria's fight against the false-flagging Islamist terrorists the US and its allies have enabled now for years. The strikes and the possibility of more favor the same kidnapping, child-killing, dunder-headed salafist mercenaries, who don't even notice when they've got their fancy wind-based evidence all set up backwards. And make no mistake, the people concocting false cover stories are the ones truly responsible for massacring a reported 100+ civilians, including "beautiful babies."

Apparent Efforts to Address this Problem
<Add 5-16>Bellingcat member Timmi Allen on Twitter has a nicely stabilized video showing the steady leftward movement of everything, except for the 'white cloud,' which he catches expanding mostly to the right for a few seconds (usually it expands in all directions). This was presented as "Different wind directions in #KhanSheikhoun chemical attack footage on ground and in height. @bellingcat @DanKaszeta." But as I and others noted there, it also seems to change directions ON the ground, at the minaret, or anyway right around this swelling cloud of vapor. The wind only blows on it, for a few seconds, while touching nothing else, as that upper wind strangely descends and blows most things, including, as we can see above on this page, this same white cloud, smearing its left side into that damn, problematic upper level wind. Right there at ground level. Weird stuff, this reality seeping back into the void created by another terrorist lie in Syria.

Why discuss wind direction now? It was never an issue for the first weeks. Is it now, that I'm raising it over the last week or so? Is someone of more influence raising the issue as well? Or is it just a coincidence Allen happened to notice a possible wind to the right ... where there isn't even one ... and decided to publish that as important just now?<end 5/16>


  1. Another octagonal minaret but I'm not sure where it is.

    Known + new one in order shown on Bellingcat picture:


    The photo has been placed on Google Earth near the 4th minaret on Bellingcat (orange, behind the hill) but might not have been put in the right place.

    It isn't one of the 4 we have already, 2nd only has 2 balconies and a square base, 4th known minaret the balconies are closer together.

    New photo from http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2271709

    1. Didn't realise the minaret behind the hill is actually shown on the 'Smart' video ("Mosque Hospice" on Google maps)


    2. Thanks for this digging, Andrew. It's a detail I didn't get before, the balconies - led to some confusion.

    3. All on one big map + youtube etc. for reference:


      1. https://twitter.com/Qoppa999/status/864423800900923392
      2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDUQ8CHqouk
      From distance from west 0:00 - 0:10, close up 0:10 - 0:13
      3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoBE1sEqKgc
      4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLdEt5NfPfM
      0:00 - 0:20
      5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qeosawyrgyo
      From south 2:08 - 2:10, might be same one in http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2271709
      6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qeosawyrgyo
      2:01 - 2:07

    4. And more ... not really wind related, but close enough. I'm burned out on looking at minarets. The whole reason has lost its thin appeal. I'll leave it to the wrong-dayers.

  2. Have any actual meteorologists come forward to say the fog shown cannot be a natural phenomenon?

    Giant smoke machines don't seem feasible and if they were producing a fake on a grand scale at that point or even days before, we could have reasonably expected to have been flooded with White Helmets videos from inside the town itself, showing them in their new hazmat suits 'saving children within minutes of the killer chemical cloud'.

    1. Efforts continue (in vain, I suspect) to show the videos are from different days, and prob. neither of them the 4th. If that's so, proven or not, natural mist would be the most likely answer. But... in both views we have same basic sun angles/time of year/same vegetation, no scene differences, and only 20-30 minutes or so time difference (w/fog video later, despite efforts to claim otherwise). We also have the same prevailing wind on both days, and one has an expanding white vapor cloud, unusual, and the other day has unusually thick mist centered (densest-seeming) partly in that same spot.

      So, logically, the same day case is not difficult to entertain, except for how that mist would just keep expanding that whole time.

      No natural mist could form in that short span (not could it evaporate, if you want to flip the order but keep them same-day)

      So, in my scenario I'm sticking to, this might be/likely is all video of the 4th. So I have to think of what it could be. It would be something weird, for sure. It's on a day when terrorists have a false-flag event planned with lots of dead lined up - it's Ghouta 2.0 - and their story involves a widespread toxic fog. So they got that on video. To me, it seems just a matter of how, and they had time to plan. "Fog machines" might be stupid, but I don't mean like from a rock show... No one's suggested anything better, but still, I don't think it's at all impossible. I don't have any model or specs dug up yet. Could be just a big tub they pour barrels of chemicals into, or any kind of steam boiler, maybe (isn't mist/fog just steam?) Etc. (Others are better with such guesses, but they aren't even helping here)

      Also, some argue it's trapped smoke, and there will be some. Petri and Charles Wood, and Michael Kobs think that's all it is, that the amount is ok. So I imagine a big portion of what we see is that, but I suspect less than half, considering these discrete spots where it seems to originate. I mean, look at that expansion - it's enough to go strongly against the wind for a moment, as a Bellingcat kook noted here arguing the wind at ground level actually blows to the right. (will be adding this...) https://twitter.com/Timmi_Allen/status/864144516177113090

      That right there might seem odd or impossible, but it's on video. Imagine not 15 seconds but 20+ minutes of that expansion, then see the fog video and tell me it's really gotten any stranger than it already was, right there on video. OK, a second weird spot emerged to the SW, and others might have. That's weirder, but not so far out once we see the precedent. If they had one (mystery device/method), why not 2 or 3 or maybe more?

      (longer answer than needed, but helping practice my broader case for everyone)

    2. And a problem with your if-then: There's already no video of rescues around town, with or without fog. We suspect because it's hard to first scatter al your hostages into various homes and get them gassed there instead of running away, before you can come back and save them. So, they just filmed the fog from a distance, because it looks clearer and more dramatic that way anyhow. It's a scale effect, and maybe badly overdone, which is a clue to tease out if so. These alleged Assad bombs can lay there and pour fog for 20 minutes and cover the whole town? And so far we hear just the one bomb "near the bakery" did all of that, against the wind. That, or an improved version to come, is what they're saying. That makes even less sense than my theory, especially considering motive, etc.

    3. To try and word what I meant to ask a bit better, have any pro-opp press/activists who claim the fog video shows something connected to a chemical attack provided any professional expert opinion to back up the claim?

      If not and it's just a man on a hill's video of some 'strange looking' fog then there isn't really much to debunk?

      Fakery and scattered victims - they could have just used the story that they all ran into the 'communal bomb shelter' or been in the road on the path of the cloud. I think real or not, had the White Helmets been there they would have filmed the event.. maybe they just weren't there?

      Then there is Alaa's father and his equating a woman falling over with a gas attack. Did he think that because of what he saw or because someone in the street told him that?

      I need to read more about the victims (and what was going on in scenes like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nwOx4V_uks ), am I right in thinking every single one was moved - even those apparently dangerous to touch? None left where they fell with everyone too scared to pick up them up?

      I know you disagree but I agree with Michael Kobs on the thread about the white cloud. Looking between the minaret and white cloud, I think the big plume and white cloud are connected - all one dust cloud.

    4. Expert opinions, good Q. I miss a lot actually, but I haven't seen any. It's all just impression: here's bomb plumes and weird white cloud expanding, a lot of implied axpansion isn't shown (because it didn't happen? Or because it looked bad on review?). Then, foggy town, and the impression comes through good enough, paired with accounts of a caustic, foul-smelling, faintly yellow fog over the town... Paid experts might insist on including wind direction, and their opinions won't fit, so maybe they'll never bother asking. Or maybe they can find a shill even that bad to insist this can only be as Assad bomb that poured lots of fog all over, no details.

      But again, in my scenario, there probably was no event in that fog. It might've even been sorta toxic, or just steam + stories, but likely no in home rescues, and hence none shown. Victims WOULD be in a sarin plume, coated with droplets, but somehow all were picked up unseen,put on trucks, driven to the camera spot? No. I agree with you there. Likely killed by something less 'contagious,' already gathered, and brought to the WH cave hospital, or gathered and gassed there and then dragged outside to show off (or, that scene is also largely fake)

      Plume PART, maybe, but Too white, and no blast-consistent rise (no heat, cons. with cloud-like vapor production), plus ... it keeps on pouring for a long time to coat the town, if all connected, as I'm pursuing (this is the false-flag scenario that tries to account for all evidence, compared, including visual evidence that's even allegedly related and still not disproven).

    5. This is what I see -

      Repeating but I thought this video was useful:


      So different colour does not mean a separate airstrike, the video even has white clouds that match quite well. Here are some of the frames showing the area between the minaret and the white cloud:


      You can see the dust moving so the dust cloud clearly doesn't stop at the minaret. The quality of the original video was so bad it was hard to see this (which is the mistake the guy from Bellingcat has made). The darker cloud seems to match up with the base of the larger plume so, if the white cloud is more distant, the darker cloud should appear in front of the white cloud.

      But it doesn't seem to- making the white cloud closer or on a level with the larger plume. Seems logical from the movement that it is from the same strike, all one big cloud with parts in the sun, parts in shade.

      For the smoke machine, just hypothetically and ignoring the logistics and mathematics, for sake of argument the opposition have something that produces a fog that covers an entire town. The question you'd then have is why would they use it only there and not to cover their fighters on the front line in the failing Hama offensive?

      As Bilal Kareem said when he was in Aleppo, jets not being able to see would stop the bombing:


      This is off topic but maybe for a future post - I'm interested to hear what you make of John Delacour's "W77" findings?


      Seems popular in the KS area, appeared on the trucks that brought victims but is it meaningful or coincidence?

    6. Some good points, similar to what others are saying, that could possibly be the answer. I'm not at all convinced, but it's worth some review. I'll leave the subject there for the moment as I focus on the Hula Massacre 5 year agitation. But in the next few days or couple weeks, I'll put up a post about this subject. I've just gotten it mapped out, BTW, and the area's not so huge as I thought. Coverage by man-made means ('fog machine', pressurized steam, giant fumigator, etc.) given perhaps 20+ minutes is not as crazy as some would assume. Cool graphics on that (SW area on Twitter), but I'll want to consider the other options as well before I put it all in some fair context. Feel free to drop any more points, but I won't be arguing back for a while, and not at this post when I do. Cheers.

  3. CL,

    I think you’re asking the weak-to-nonexistent ground-level winds to carry too much of the work load in this case. Even at the top of the plumes , we’re probably only talking 3-5 mph winds - that’s considered “no wind today” when I’m out on the boat. At ground level in the middle of town, it could well have been essentially dead calm. That’s why when I look at the composite photo strips of the bomb plumes vs the “fog” progression, it looks perfectly natural to me. The fog follows the terrain as it “settles” , finding no place to go and backing-up a bit on the camera side of the hill, but flowing more freely on the backside. The high side of town is generally to the east , or to the left in those photo strips , so you’d expect things to settle downhill , or to the right in general.

    The al-Jazeera illustration with the red-blocked areas - representing the areas impacted by sarin/toxic gases I presume - also looks about right to me, based on the terrain map. The red areas represent areas downhill from the “sarin” crater , and the main road that bisects the red blocks would probably have some effect on channeling flow as well , as the road bed would be slightly elevated relative to the shoulders and beyond.

    As to the composition of the “fog” , I suspect it’s a combination - it looks like it was a hazy day to begin with , and with the temp inversion , there may well have been noticeable fog that morning even without the airstrikes. If there was significant ground-level moisture , sarin would have glommed right onto it , as sarin is effectively infinitely soluble in water. Similarly for any water-soluble components of the blast clouds, which may have included additional water vapor from the blasts themselves if any water pipes or containers were destroyed. Add it all up and you’ve got a flowing river of fog , perhaps of significantly variable composition locally , but generally obeying the laws of gravity in its movement, with wind playing only a secondary role, if that.

    I think there's more fundamental questions that need to be answered , like the discrepancy between the airstrike stories. Does the Syrian air force admit to flying a recon mission over KS at ~ 6:30 AM ? If not , did the U.S. falsify that radar track, or did some other country's jet(s) bomb KS in the early AM ? Why did SentrySyria fail to report any early AM takeoffs from Shayrat air base on April 4 ? Who tipped off the activists in KS if it wasn't SentrySyria?

    My working theory is that this was an actual jet attack, using a real sarin bomb , perhaps even two, using Assad's sarin stocks or hexamine-spiked sarin to mimic Assad's stuff, designed and implemented as a false-flag by one or more groups of coalition intel/military operatives. A real production, in other words, with lots of amateurish , phony stuff around a professionally-designed core.


    1. I found this weather forecast site that I wish we had for April 4, as it gives a nice visualization of cloud cover and heights:


      It shows ground-level clouds (i.e. fog ) for Sat and Sun nights this week, lifting after sunrise. I'm certain the elevations are relative to sea level, and since KS sits at roughly 0.3 km above sea level, it looks like the expectation would be for a good chance of early-AM fog for KS on Sun and Mon.

      It seems likely the increased chance of fog is linked to the expected rain during the day on Sat. I don't believe KS had any rain on the couple of days preceding April 4th , but I'm not 100% sure about it.


    2. If you're looking for trapped smoke, don't look up, but down to the ground (invisible here, BTW - this is treetops-up). Those plumes: same little particles that were hot, floated way high and stay - those won't just drop here and make a fog. They'll float far away and settle there slowly. I suspect there is somelow-level blast smoke included in this fog.

      False-flag jet attack? The flight track to Shayrat is made up, and no one has a track of the real attackers? It's a thought, but... where was this sarin bomb dropped, you think? Somewhere southwest of the reported sites, or what?

    3. Marko: cool discovery and learning. But all this fog chasing ... well, you know I don't see much value in it.

    4. Returning to this:

      "weak-to-nonexistent ground-level winds" - we don't see ground-level winds anywhere, so we have to guess - from treetops and up, as we can see (check if you don't agree) it blows to the north and east. Charles Wood estimates it's around 6-8 mph there, and I'm not as good with quantifying but that sounds right (remember when looking, maybe half the real speed is invisible, the towards-away axis). Upper winds are the same direction but faster. Ground level winds should be the same, but slower.

      fog settles: No. That's happening under the drift, but at treetops and up (what we see) it's clearly drifting to the left, seems to have spread mostly to the left and towards the camera from the white cloud area, and the SW fog area's shape suggests it spreads from a distinct spot on the same wind, north and east (divided by a hill it didn't want to climb)

      An active ground-level wind, perhaps weak, but consistent with the mid-and-upper level winds we see is just what we should expect here. If not this, then what unexpected phenomenon then caused this debatable mist to take a shape AS IF it had been blown by such a wind? Simple answer: it's the same wind that clearly exists here. End of story, as far as I can see.

      As for the recon flight - this is my own idea, not anything Syria admits to. If SyAF did have a mission in the area aound 6:30-6:45, they might prefer to not openly talk about it, and "admit it," even to claim it didn't drop anything ("oh yeah, right, and all these people just got sick for no reason, blah blah?")

      They would also not want to be caught explicitly denying it. In fact they don't deny they had any flights at the time, just that there were no airstrikes. Again they would rather deny any flights, but they don't. So that's quite consistent with my guess that they did have jets nearby when the shit hit the fan (that is the 'rebels' had good timing for once), as we likely hear at the start of the 3-plumes video.

      A secondary guess is that the presented flight track is accurate, and means those jets from Shayrat airfield can't have dropped any gravity bombs on any of the sites as alleged, because they never got closer than about 2 km south of those spots. (this is debatable, but I don't want to debate it everywhere as I'm going to clarify it some more here at ACLOS.)


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