The Clear Sky Chart showed a tantalizing break in the clouds on Tuesday morning from about 3am-5am. I made plans to go to my default meteor observing site, which is up on a ridge. Unusually for November, there wasn't any threat of ice or snow; after a couple of cold and wet days, the temperature was climbing overnight as a warm, dry wind picked up.
I woke up at 2am and it was still cloudy. I went back to bed. By 3 or so, I could sort of see enough breaks in the clouds to make it worthwhile. I got up and drove to my site. The last bit of cloud was retreating to the north by the time I got there. The wind was ripping, but I had observed the Orionids on a much colder windy morning in October, so I wasn't too concerned. I had planned to take a look at Comet C/2020 M3 (ATLAS) before I started in on the Leonids, but it would have been useless to set up a scope in the wind, so I settled for detecting it as a fuzz patch in my 8x42 binoculars. I grabbed my tarp, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag, threw them down and got on top of them before they could blow away. I was happy to see a magnitude 0 Leonid while I was doing this.
It was 3:43am (11:43 UT) when I started counting. In 27 minutes, I saw 3 Leonids, 3 sporadics and 2 Taurids. Then the clouds returned. I was clouded out for the rest of the hour, and I only saw 2 Leonids and 1 sporadic in sucker patches. At 4:43am, clouds had retreated enough for me to give it another go. I fought through just over an hour of observing time with a couple of short cloud breaks, and saw 10 Leonids, only 2 sporadics (!) and 1 Taurid. The wind was the real show. I was snuggled in my bag in a bit of a hollow, letting the wind come upslope and pass over me, but during the watch it occasionally swirled and turned from behind me, picking up debris and dropping it on my face. I'm still blinking and picking stuff out. During some gusts, it felt like the ground was shaking. The wind may have hurt my perception of fainter meteors, because I didn't see many despite a limiting magnitude between 6.3 and 6.7 in the clear areas. The brightest meteor was a -2 Leonid.
There was a lot of log truck traffic on the road below me. For my departure, I got behind one of the big rigs and followed it down the narrow road so that I wouldn't have to meet another one coming up at me. I did catch Mercury as I drove home in bright twilight.
An eventful morning, but my transcript of my meteor count has more lines for sky condition changes than for actual meteors. Not exactly a red-letter session. Clearing during the Geminids is probably too much to hope for, but I'll hope anyway.
Klamath Falls, OR