Archive for June, 2007

Seeds of Independence Sown
June 30, 2007

An area of low pressure that brought all the rain to Texas moved north into Kansas and grabbed ahold of the front that is trying to clear our area. As it moved north, its held up the western end of the front so our expected cloud cover is hanging tough across the area Saturday with the expected breaks in the clouds and an errant passing brief shower or 2. In other words, the forecast was pinpoint!! A big fat high will nose down from the north and move all of this stuff south, including the blob of rain in Kansas, which will eventually move back into North Texas. Don’t be surprised if you see more national news about rain in Texas this week.
On This Date In History: We celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4. Everyone knows it was in 1776. But, on this date in 1775 the seeds for separation were sown when the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of War. Its rather interesting because the Congress directed Thomas Jefferson to omit any criticism of King George. Instead, Jefferson referred to the colonists as “his Majesty’s most faithful subjects in these Colonies” and laid blame for their actions at the feet of parliament. My guess is that this goes back to the tradition of protest.
 See, for centuries, the peasants in Europe were not able to communicate directly with the King. The King’s men did his bidding and often did things that upset the citizenry. So, they would protest with the idea that “if only the king knew…he’d stop this!” so they protested in an effort to gain the King’s attention to their plight expecting that the King would deal with the evil doers and right the wrongs. So, I suspect this was Congress putting the King on notice that their grievances were not against him directly, hoping that by declaring they had not personal beef with him, that the King would address their grievances and all would be well in Colonial America.
But, alas, that did no good because as was often the case, the King’s men were doing exactly what the King wanted. It was never very likely that the King’s men or the Parliament would do any free-lancing and act beyond the King’s wishes. After a year, that became apparent to the colonists and a year later, Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and laid the blame squarely at the King’s feet. From that point forth, there was no turning back and for the leaders of the Revolution, mainly the colonies’ elites, literally were living the motto “give me liberty or give me death” as the signers of the Declaration had signed their own death warrants had the efforts failed. After all, it’s one thing to dog Parliament….it’s quite another to trash the King.
But, alas, that did no good because as was often the case, the King’s men were doing exactly what the King wanted. It was never very likely that the King’s men or the Parliament would do any free-lancing and act beyond the King’s wishes. After a year, that became apparent to the colonists and a year later, Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and laid the blame squarely at the King’s feet. From that point forth, there was no turning back and for the leaders of the Revolution, mainly the colonies’ elites, literally were living the motto “give me liberty or give me death” as the signers of the Declaration had signed their own death warrants had the efforts failed. After all, it’s one thing to dog Parliament….it’s quite another to trash the King.

Let’s Celebrate Independence!!
June 29, 2007

A stubborn frontal boundary will slowly drift south and eventually take the clouds with it. Look for the clouds to erode throughout the day on Saturday from north to south and sunshine taking over heading toward the Fourth of July. Any remnant shower activity over night into early Saturday will also erode with Friday night storms to the south moving out as well. Splendid weather Sunday and Monday with cool nights and warm afternoons will give way to a heat up crescendoing on Independence Day..and that’s all okay. See, I figure the Fourth of July is supposed to be hot and humid and we’ve gotten beneficial rain for the better part of a week so we deserve a break for the holiday. After all, the next rain chance will be here soon enough…the day after July 4th….which would be the 5th on Thursday.

So…I will now dedicate myself to topics of patriotism and independence for the next several days and what better place to start than TEXAS.

On This Date In History William Barrrett Travis was an American ex-patriot in the Republic of Mexico in 1835. That is until El Presidente Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna abolished the republic and declared himself dictator. Santa Anna knew the mainly expatriated Americans wouldn’t like that too much so he sent some troops in Tejas as a precaution. On this date in 1835, Travis organized an army of 25 volunteers and they easily captured the officer in charge of the Mexican garrison at Anhuac, Tejas. Others soon joined the cause and in March of 1836, Travis, then a colonel in the Texas army found himself surrounded by about 5000 Mexican regulars led by Santa Anna himself. El Presidente asked for the surrender of the mission, the Alamo, and Travis answered with a cannon shot. After several days of siege, the 186 gallant defenders of the Alamo finally fell. History has always said that all of the defenders died included Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie. But lately, documents have been uncovered that suggest Crockett and a couple of other men were taken prisoner and returned to Mexico City where Santa Anna had them executed. Santa Anna apparently reveled in the idea of torturing the great American frontiersman. Anyway, the scene at the Alamo incensed the men of the main Texas Army under General Sam Houston. About a month after the Alamo, the Texas army routed the entire Mexican army at San Jacinto, near present day Houston. The route was over in 26 minutes as the Texans, shouting “Remember the Alamo” slaughtered the surprised the largely siesta bound Mexicans. Santa Anna had been detained in the company of a woman who was a spy for Sam Houston. As the Texans made their approach, Santa Anna had been “distracted” by the womanly charms of the lady known in Texas lore as the Yellow Rose of Texas. Santa Anna signed a surrender that granted Texas its independence and the Republic of Texas was born. It lasted about 10 years before joining the Union. The Mexican War was then fought in 1846 over a border dispute between Santa Anna and the United States. Santa Anna said that the Nueces river was the border and Uncle Sam said it was the Rio Grande. We know who won that conflict, though Congressman Abraham Lincoln voted against the war as he thought it was naked American aggression. Lincoln did not return for a second term to Congress.

Rain Chances Increase This Afternoon
June 28, 2007

A cold front is poised to move through Thursday evening or night. Ahead of it is a whole bunch of soupy, unstable air. Scattered t’storms will blossom throughout the afternoon which will have the potential for heavy downpours, wind and lightning. Look for a real good chance for beneficial general rainfall Thursday evening and Thursday night. While there should not be a wide spread threat for severe storms, my guess is that there may be some isolated storms that will develop into severe threats with strong winds and perhaps some small hail. We’ll certainly give you a heads up if any situations develop in your county. Flooding concerns will also be on our minds along with the severe threat. The front eases through early Friday and there may be some lingering showers for the first part of Friday. While some data has suggested rain all day on Friday, we’re hanging our hat on the idea that drier air filters in sufficiently that rain chances decrease by midday on Friday, though clouds should remain. The weekend still looks great with warm afternoons and cool mornings and decreased humidity. Look for a heat up by the Fourth of July.

On This Date in History World War I essentially began on this date in 1914 with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. He and his wife Sofie were visiting Sarajevo, Bosnia. I believe he was there in an effort to help negotiate differences between Austrians and Serbians. It seems destiny doomed him. First, his car was bombed by a Serbian nationalist who tossed the bomb at the car. Ferdinand deflected the bomb and it exploded with just some shrapnel injuring Sofie. No matter….he kept going. He gave a speech, chastised the Mayor of Sarajevo for the unfriendly welcome and ordered his driver to take the couple to a hospital. The driver took a wrong turn and ended up on a street named for Ferdinand’s father, Franz Joseph. The driver realized the mistake and stopped the car to turn around. It just happens that Gavrillo Princip was on that street. He was another Serb nationalist who saw his fortune and pulled a pistol and shot the royal couple. So, the Serb plan failed but fate helped them reach their objective. There was no proof that the Serbian government was involved but after several weeks, the Austrian army invaded anyway and the war was on.

You probably didn’t know all of this because the Great War is not adequately covered in high school history. It was a huge conflict that shaped the 20th century. It’s a crime that educators generally ignore it. So, how did this conflict grow? Silly alliances. In his farewell address, George Washington had warned the United States against getting into foreign alliances, partially for this reason. Austria Hungary had a deal with Germany and Italy that is one was attacked all would be considered attacked. Serbia had a deal with Russia. Russia had a deal with France. France had a deal with Britain. Historian John Keegan says that had Austria acted unilaterally against Serbia, it wouldn’t have triggered the war. But because it delayed and got Germany’s endorsement, all the dominoes fell. The belligerent countries really didn’t have too much of a beef with each other but felt compelled by alliances to act. The result was the ruin of Europe, over 20 million killed and the seed sown for the rise of Hitler and World War II.

Washington was a pretty smart guy and his farewell address offers other interesting bits of advice we would be wise to follow. One thing that jumped out at me when I re-read the address was his opinion regarding the importance of religion in public discourse. It may surprise you.

Mailbag Today
June 26, 2007

Theres not much on my mind today….just isolated t’storms on a hot and humid summer afternoon…nothing too extraordinary. We have a front coming down for Thursday that will bring a good chance of rain that may carry over into Friday then leave us with much drier and somewhat cooler conditions for a great weekend heading into the Fourth of July. The rain at the end of the week may be the last we get for a while as we heat up next week.

So…how about the mailbag. I’ve got some housecleaning to do and came across this letter to me a few weeks ago from Carol S.

“I am looking for information on the summer weather forecast for our area. I was told this is suppose to be an unseasonally warm summer, with many days 90+. is this true and where can I go to get a print out of the information? Thank you
Carol S”

From my perspective, it appears the long wave pattern is setting up to put us in a rather hot pattern. But, having said that, we average 33 days of plus 90 temperatures in Louisville and we’ve had 9 so far but thats not all that much out of line for this period in the season. Last year, I believe we had exactly 33. Now not long ago, I recall we were in a long wave pattern that kept us cooler than average for 23 out of 24 months and those two summers I think I recall we had something like 9 90 days one year and 11 the next. So, when we returned to average last year, it seemed like it was really hot when in fact, the previous two summers had been cooler.

There are people who forecast long range for commodities and sometimes they do pretty well. But overall, in my opinion, I think we are stretching our human limitations when we try and predict weather months in advance. Take for example the hurricane forecast. The initial forecast for 2005 was way way below the actual number of 20 some odd named storms. In 2006 they jumped on the bandwagon from the previous year and they said we’d have a whole bunch more. Well, we had a higher than average number but not as many as predicted and many said they would hit the US…when we were barely scratched. Never even came close to the gloom and doom stories on national news and cable. One outfit went on TV and predicted dire straights for the East Coast. So…..take it with a grain of salt. As for temperatures, I’ve seen maps that say “higher than average” or “lower than average” but when you look at the numbers, it says a 55% chance of one way or another..that’s not exactly going out on a limb but they use verbiage that suggests otherwise. My guess is that with the pattern we are seeing…not based on any computer stuff…just my observation, I would think it’s a fair assumption to say we will be somewhat hotter than normal in terms of overall averages…but not necessarily record heat.

You can do a search and find stuff…if you want US forecasts, be sure to specify the United States in your search. Here’s a couple I found:

The one above claims there will be another dust bowl this year.

Here’s one that says we’re going to roast by 2080

Here’s the official one from the NWS Climate Prediction Center. Seems to contradict the Dust Bowl scenario in that it says that the US may be overall warmer than average, especially the Southwest. They do some double talk about the midwest in that it will be warmer but there will be ample soil moisture to help bring the temperatures more in line with long term climatology and there is an equal chance for below, normal, or above normal temperatures. Hmmm. It says there may be more than normal rain for the East and Gulf Coast for late summer and early fall due to more tropical activity. But that is not to be considered as hurricane strike probabilities. Hmmmm. Otherwise it calls for dry conditions in the Southeast. Note the use of the term “equal chance”…that means the data came back as 50%, methinks.

So, there you have it…clear as mud. If you think about it, it really doesn’t matter what the forecast says about the long term temperatures this summer because there is nothing anyone can do about it anyway, either way it shakes out. Remember Mark Twain: “Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.” As we have seen from our Dinka tribesman and the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, people have tried and now we have the school of thought that man has done something about the weather with anthropogenic global warming and some think something can be done to change that. I’ll let others argue about that while I stay focused on the next few days. We need rain and there is the Fourth of July coming up….and we still have polluted waterways that seems to be overlooked.

Thats alot for not having anything on my mind. Thanks for waking me from my slumber Carol and I hope this helps.

Keep your cards and letters coming.

USAF: We said it…but its not what we meant!
June 25, 2007

As expected, we got more rain but I have to admit it was more general rainfall than I anticipated…that is if you lived in Louisville. Counties along the river were mainly cloudy and rainy for much of the day while other areas just had some passing showers. This weekend though, everyone got some rain. Not enough to bust the drought mind you, but perhaps enough to hold off the severe drought conditions that have been creeping across the state. The rain in general has been of the soaking variety, though some areas from time to time got some brief gully washers. Monday we should see more scattered activity and perhaps some isolated stuff on Tuesday as the low responsible for it all fades away….its sticking around about 36 hours longer than I anticipated and my hydrangea is quite pleased with that prospect. Next chance for rain shows up on Thursday with a fairly significant front.

On This Date In History: In July of 1947, the United States Air Force first reported that personnel had found parts of a flying disc near Roswell, NM. A furor of space invasion fever took ahold of America. So the USAF changed their story to say….uh….its a weather balloon. How one can confuse a disc with a balloon is not clear. But, it was their story and they stuck to it….after they didn’t stick with the first story. Many didn’t believe them. So fifty years later, on this date in 1997, they tried to explain it again. I don’t think too many people still believe them and certainly not those who have made a small cottage business out of the tale. If the story would go away, who would go to the Space Aliens diner or buy all of those space alien t’shirts?

On this date in 1969, the day after the Cuyohoga River burned in Cleveland, the US was without a Chief Justice. Earl Warren resigned his position. He is well remembered for his commission investigating the JFK assasination. His conclusion left almost as many people in disbelief as did the Roswell incident, giving rise to cottage industries invoking the name of conspiracy. He had been a Republican governor of California who was appointed Chief Justice by President Eisenhower. But, he ended up not being the type of justice Eisenhower had thought, leaving Ike to exclaim that it was “the biggest damned-fool mistake I ever made.”

One thing about Warren that many popular culture sources do not reveal is that while Warren was Governor of California during WWII, he had strongly advised President Roosevelt to pursue the course of internment of Japanese Americans. Thats why its always good to check multiple sources or read several books on a particular topic as there are some authors who only want you to know what they want you to know. Some call it lies by omission.

Told You Saturday Was the Best Chance
June 24, 2007

Well, chalk one up for the good guys. We’ve been telling your for the better part of a week that Saturday was our best chance for rain in a couple of weeks. Let it be written, let it be done! The first part of the day looked like our previous days with rain in the forecast and that is some folks got some and others didn’t. Saturday afternoon, a whole mess of t’storms started bubbling up to the southwest and moved into the area bringing general rainfall. Again, some people got a quarter inch or so and others up to 2 inches but its the first day of rain for everyone in some time. Now, Sunday, the area of low pressure to our west and the quasi-warm front over the top of us fades away but I suspect there will be enough instability to provide more in the way of scattered activity. We had a couple of severe warnings today but I doubt if that will repeat itself for Sunday. Nevertheless, it bears watching. We’ll heat up for much of the week ahead before a reasonably formidable cold front comes down on Thursday and brings another chance for rain and perhaps slightly cooler temperatures for next weekend.

On this date in history: In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was a mess. All sorts of stuff spilling into the river made it a muck of sewage and chemicals. It was yuckadoo. It was so bad that on this date in 1969, it caught fire.,SUNA:2006-06,SUNA:en

Some sources say the fire was started by spontaneous combustion. Others say that definitely it did not start that way. The one below says that the cause is unknown but it suspects sparks from a passing train….I didn’t know diesel electric motor trains caused sparks. Anyway, it points out that this was the 10th time the river had ignited.

The different sources also give different dates….some say the 22nd others say the 23rd. My guess is that it started on the night of the 22nd and burned all day on the 23rd. No matter. It happened and is an example of what can happen if one ignores pollution of waterways. This was an eye opening event and the leaders of Cleveland did more than simply post signs. They got together and worked to clean up and stop the problem. Many historians point to this event as the one that got the ball rolling for the 1972 Clean Water Act

This final link has some interesting tid bits, including a Randy Newman song they claim is linked to the big fire.

Need More Rain? Let’s Call on the Railroad!
June 21, 2007

Despite the rain of Tuesday, the drought continues. While some areas, specifically Clark, Oldham and extreme northeast Jefferson (KY) counties got in excess of an inch in many cases, other areas got but a pittance. We tried the Dinka tribesman, now how about some Yankee ingenuity. In 1895, some boys with the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Ry. Co. used the above gizmo mounted on a railcar to spew all sorts of stuff in the air. A Mr. Jewell was the inventor of the gadget that released three secret gases…gases said to be similar to the mysterious gases of the Arabian Nights…whatever that is. It is said that it worked…but I suppose if it did then we’d know more about it. And who knows what they were spewing into the atmosphere. Perhaps these are the dastardly fellows who began global warming! For more, check here:,SUNA:2006-08,SUNA:en

We do need more rain and there is a shot on Saturday. I told you about the potential for an MCS moving down. The boys at the Severe Storms lab see the same thing and put us on the extreme eastern flank of a slight risk for severe thunderstorms Friday morning to Saturday morning. If the data is correct, it would appear a fair bet that they get some big storms to our northwest and as the complex moves into the Ohio Valley, the energy will be dispersed such that it doesn’t have as much oomph to produce big storms but would bring a chance for rain. However, it needs to be monitored because a good MCS can last a long time. Maybe if we conjure the ghosts of the old Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific it will do some good.

Presidential Nuptial Date in History On this date in 1810, 26-year-old Zachary Taylor married 31-year-old Margaret Smith right here in Louisville! He became famous in the Mexican War as a big shot general and was then elected President in in 1848. But his term only lasted from 1849 to 1850 as he died of acute gastroenteritis. It is said he ate too many sweet potatoes and he was buried in Louisville. You can visit him on Brownsboro Road. His wife hated public life and insisted that their daughter perform all of the customary First Lady duties at the White House. 130 years later, Richard Nixon married Pat Ryan. While they weren’t in Louisville, perhaps we should look to see if there were any weddings today to see if we see a future first couple. Another coincidence of sorts… One of Taylor’s daughters married Confederate President Jefferson Davis. One of Nixon’s daughters married former President Dwight Eisenhower’s grandson. Perhaps June 20th presidential nuptials is a disease passed on to future generations.

One more thing…Sammy Sosa hit his 600th homerun tonight. I wonder if he is still crediting Flintstone Vitamins for his homerun prowess.

Singin’ In The Rain
June 20, 2007

As expected, we got some rain on Tuesday. Zach Stahlman in Goshen got over 2″ of rain as the storm with the greatest rainfall moved across Clark and Oldham counties. Franklin Moreland reported about 8/10 ” of rain in Charlestown while other rain gauges in that area got over an inch. Jared Heil in Henryville reported an inch. But much of the rest of the area was mainly in line with forecast totals of between a quarter and 3/4 of an inch of rain. Its not enough to bust the drought, but it doesn’t hurt. Next chance for rain shows up on Saturday as what is known as a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) appears to develop and move down from the northwest at least near our area. We’ll have to watch that for the potential for strong storms. Beyond that, rain chances appear to be limited.

Be careful for what you ask for Yes indeed…from the unintended consequence department, we have this. Corn production is up but corn prices continue to rise rapidly. The reason: increased demand for ethanol. When a commodity such as corn goes up in price, everything associated with corn goes up. For instance, one would expect beef prices to increase as the price for corn feed increases. In China they curtailed ethanol production because it was driving up corn prices so high.

You often hear of people complaining about gas prices increasing and pointing to the fact that no new refineries have gone on line in several decades. That is a bit of a red herring because I think only one oil company has even applied for a new refinery in that time. Refining profit margins are small and they can’t justify the capital risk for such a small return. But, there has been expansion of refining capacity over the past couple of decades by some 50%. Now, with the White House and Congressional push for more use of biofuels, the oil companies are scaling back plans to expand refining capacity by up to 10 percent. They feel that the billions necessary for the expansion cannot be justified in a market they expect to experience a decrease in demand. So, if this ethanol thing doesn’t work, then don’t look for gas prices to go down unless demand decreases since there will be no increase in supply.

Now, consider this…if we do go to more and more ethanol, and there is a failed corn crop, fuel prices would rise and there could even be shortages. Do we really want to be that dependent on the weather and farmer’s fortunes? In the early 20th century, the automobile was seen as an environmental savior because there was so much pollution and disease in cities associated with animal wastes. There were a lot of mules and horses doing the work. We now know that the car may have ended one form of pollution and traded it for another. The automobile is considered one of the root causes for the supposed anthropogenic(man made) global warming. The point is that there always seems to be unintended consequences associated with progress.


Is It Time To Call On The Dinka Rain-maker?
June 18, 2007

Perhaps we could use the skills of this chap. He was a Bor Dinka tribesman named Biyordit who was seen as a rainmaker. Next to him is a pole called a Rit on which the carcass of a sacrificed animal is hung. This photo was taken in the early 20th century. He apparently had a sacred spear used in the ceremony to help produce rain. You can read more about him here:,SUNA:2006-06,SUNA:en

Somehow he got shot in the face and apparently, since his miraculously recovered, he was held in even higher esteem. Well, I’m not so sure our current situation calls for taking a bullet in the chops, but it does call for some relief. And we have lots of moisture moving up from the south and it will help to perhaps cause some passing showers tonight and tomorrow. A frontal boundary will move through on Tuesday enhancing our prospects for rain to levels not seen for a couple of weeks. But before you put away the sprinklers, keep in mind the ole computer models only think a quarter to a half inch of rain will fall out of this whole thing. I would think some people may get more but in any event, this little rain event may wet the ground and help the flower garden, but its not going to really impact the drought situation too much. So, I’ll see if we can’t find one of Biyordit’s relatives and check on his availability.

On this date in history: Paul McCartney was born in 1942…that makes him 65! Will you still need me when I’m 64? Apparently he didn’t need Heather Mills when he was 64 or 65. Report from the tabloids say she was not invited to his birthday party. He probably has a few million reasons why she was left off the invite list.

The war of 1812 began on this date when Congress declared war and President James Madison signed the measure into law. Why we call it the War of 1812 is lost on me because it wasn’t over until Christmas of 1814 and the biggest victory for the United States occurred after the war was over. Seems Andy Jackson and his boys in New Orleans didn’t get the news and met the British in a famous battle around Lake Borgne. The battle took place in January of 1815….so officially, one cannot say there was a battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812 because it was 1815 and the war was over. But, since Cleveland had already taken the moniker “the mistake by the lake” I guess they had to call it something. Wouldn’t that be pretty bad luck if you fought and died for your country in a battle of a war that was already over?

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I Told You So
June 16, 2007

I’m tellin‘ ya…if we don’t pay attention to what is going on for real instead of jumping on the bandwagon of the latest environmental controversy, we all may deserve to be sent to the cooler or perhaps the front!

For flag day, I complained about the lack of action or caring about polluted water….the very essence of life. I did allow though it was not just a Louisville or Ohio River problem. Well, on that day, news started hitting the wires about reports, perhaps originally derived from the Hindustan Times earlier this year, that told of the Ganga River in India. A very sacred river….it is now not only too polluted for bathing or drinking water, its so polluted due to sewage that it is no longer suitable for irrigation.

Its a dying river that is now not only useless for wildlife, but also for humans and agriculture. There is a saying that in Venice, no one did anything about the flooding problems until the sewage was flowing in people’s houses. While we spend money going to movies that spotlight theoretical potential or spend time discussing conspiracies like chemtrails….the very source of our existence….the substance that makes up about 2/3 of our bodies….becomes less and less user friendly. And no one seems to care. If you can’t go the waterfront in Louisville and read the signs warning of swimming due to polluted waters following a rainstorm, then read the Hindustan Times and other stories below. They may not have any signs on the rivers in India and their problem may be worse than ours for now. But the result will be the same for everyone if we don’t wise up. Who knows, perhaps the next war will not be over oil or another valued commodity, but instead over clean water…the natural resource we most take for granted.

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