Still Waiting on Fay and Riding a Bike Across America
August 13, 2008

Intensity 00Z 08/13

Intensity 00Z 08/13

OOZ 08/13 spaghetti track

OOZ 08/13 spaghetti track

We still do not have a depression. The hurricane hunter didn’t find anything more than a broad circulation. But, the spaghetti maps remain in general agreement for the track and most of the models insist on making it a tropical cyclone of some sort moving into the Bahamas. One is really going bananas taking it up well over 100 kts in several days. The spaghetti track and intensity spaghetti data for 00Z Wednesday is above.

Our weather remains very nice. A little disturbance wanders by to our south but we are not anticipating rain later in the week at this time, though it bears watching. We could use the rain. Some of the climate tracking models indicate that the trofiness over the east that has brought us such nice weather would steer anything developing up the east coast or out to sea, but the models themselves do not seem to go along with that. We’ll have to wait and see. Below is the special statement from the NHC from Tuesday afternoon regarding disturbance 92L. I speculate that the boys at the NHC are still bullish on this system as they put out this special statement. I can’t think of another good reason for them to do so.

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WONT41 KNHC 122053 DSAAT SPECIAL TROPICAL DISTURBANCE STATEMENT NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL 455 PM EDT TUE AUG 12 2008 DATA FROM AN AIR FORCE RESERVE UNIT HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT…AS WELL AS SURFACE OBSERVATIONS AND SATELLITE IMAGERY…INDICATE THAT THE BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE LOCATED SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES EAST OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS HAS NOT DEVELOPED INTO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION. HOWEVER… THIS SYSTEM STILL HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME A DEPRESSION OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS AS IT MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT 10 TO 15 MPH. ANOTHER AIR FORCE RESERVE UNIT HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT IS SCHEDULED TO INVESTIGATE THE WAVE TOMORROW…IF NECESSARY. $$ FORECASTER BLAKE/FRANKLIN

Across America In 80 Days! On this date in history, a man who was a butcher by trade in Oakland, California was on his way to accomplish a herculean feat, but didn’t really make a big deal about it. George Loher decided it would be a “pleasant undertaking” to ride his bicycle across America. He left San Francisco on Aug. 11, 1895 and on this date was on his way to Oregon on his Stearns Yellow Fellow. The Stearns’ company model was pretty similar to bicycles of today and Loher was weighed down with over 50 pounds of equipment, clothes and supplies to such an extent that observers weren’t sure he’d ever get out of the Bay Area. But, he did.

It would seem Loher took the northern route, heading to Oregon and then across thirteen states and territories. He crossed deserts, sandy valleys and 5 mountain ranges. Believe it or not, he was not the first to ride a two-wheeler across the country. Years before, a guy named Thomas Stevens rode a high-wheeler across the nation and later around the world. But, the tea-totalling butcher and “wheelman” enthusiast was the first to do so with the new pneumatic tire and for some odd reason, he had no brakes. Seems, his method of stopping was to drop a bunch of brush and sticks tied to a rope on his bike and drag it behind to slow his momentum. I don’t think it worked too well. In Oregon, his trip almost ended when he nearly ran into a train. In Washington, he broke his front forks and in Montana he smashed his front wheel on a boulder.

Undaunted, he continued on and in North Dakota he must have gotten into trouble because he was cursed at in Swedish. His luck changed in Wisconsin because he took time to party down with a bunch of tobacco traders. One doesn’t think of Ohio as being a big oil state but he rode between oil wells in the Buckeye State. One publication describes him as a typical tourist. Well, Snow White and I just returned from an adventure in Virginia and Washington DC and we didn’t decide to visit a prison but Loher thought it would be a good idea to visit Sing Sing prison in New York. The warden must have thought he was some sort of VIP because he let the traveler take a rest in the electric chair. Loher said “I found it a comfortable piece of furniture (that is, when the dynamo is not running.)”

Loher finished his adventure in 80 days, which would have made Jules Verne smile. And then…he returned to Oakland on a train and went back to his butcher shop. He wrote a journal about his exploits but didn’t publish it because he thought it was too ordinary. Hence, he was lost to the pages of history until the late 1960′s when he grand-daughter was rummaging through some of his stuff and found the manuscript. She had it published in the early 1970′s.

This is rather odd in American lore because most of the time people do extra-ordinary things…in this case cycling over 4300 miles in the days before automobiles and paved roads and when Swedish was still being spoken in North Dakota…and then cash in with a book or something. Not George. He simply went home. Apparently, he did it because, as one published article says, he “wanted a larger slice of life” and he certainly must have been adventuresome because he neglected to pack a map. He just rode like Forrest Gump until he ran into the ocean.

The book is called The Wonderful Ride and it looks like you can find it on antique or used book websites.

Boring Here; Tropics More Interesting; Six Flags Hoisted
August 1, 2007


Our weather continues to be influenced by a big fat area of high pressure. Temperatures will remain hot and rain chances minimal, though there is a chance for some random t’storms this weekend and maybe Tuesday. Tropical Storm Chantal was a waste of time as its already off the board. But, there is a tropical wave on the other side of the Antilles that will be investigated by the Hurricane Hunters. A little system in the NE Gulf of Mexico associated with an old frontal boundary may be up to no good, but most likely in the form of heavy rain for coastal concerns.

On This Date in History: Lots of things happened on this date. In 1966, Charles Whitman took to the top of the University of Texas main building tower and shot a bunch of people. WWI began in 1914. The Sonny and Cher Show Debuted in 1971. In 1953, “Shane, Come Back!” entered the American lexicon as Shane was released. It is said that many actors had to stand in small ditches so Alan Ladd didn’t look so short. I think it was the debut of a young Jack Palance. And in 1943, Lt. John F. Kennedy had his PT-109 torpedoed. Kennedy was credited with helping to save the lives of his crew and his heroism helped launch his political career. Later Cliff Robertson portrayed Kennedy in PT-109 and made a coconut famous. My favorite guy though was Lenny.

But the most interesting thing to me today was that Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961. It was the first of the Six Flags parks and had the first log rides and mine train rides. It was also the first park to feature a single admission price, which was $2.75 for adults and $2.25 for kids. Previously all parks required payment for each ride. What is more remarkable though is that the guy who came up with the idea, Angus Wynne, Jr. only thought of it as a short term investment. He was an oilman and real estate developer who had other plans for the 212 acre site in Arlington, Texas. He was planning on just using the park to get the land to produce some revenue until he could develop an industrial park. He put up $3.5 million of the $10 million required to start up Six Flags Over Texas. His plans changed when in 18 months he had gotten his money back. Within 10 years, over 17 million people had visited his plan for a quick buck and became the most profitable private tourist attraction in Texas. Seems Ol’ Angus struck oil without even drilling one well.

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