Archive for July, 2007

Remember the Grifon?
July 31, 2007

The boys at the NHC have named Chantal. Its a worthless storm moving quickly northeast and will probably live much longer as an extra-tropical storm than a tropical storm. There is also a wave out there that needs the Bee Gees because its having problems staying alive, but we’ll see how it shakes out. No Changes for us. Lazy, Hazy hot Dog Days ahead. Rain chances are still pretty slim for as far as the eye can see. We’ll keep looking nonetheless.

On This Date In History: On this date in 1715, the French ship Grifon survived a hurricane off the coast of Florida. “So what,” you ask? Well, first off when the Spanish came to the new world they were looking for booty and plunder. They wanted to exploit the region for its natural resources and send it back to the king in Spain. So they would gather up all of their gold and trinkets and send them back on ships, usually in a convoy to protect against pirates. The Spaniards were rather formidable in those days and so it was suicide for any marauding pirates to try and take on a fleet of ships. On this date in 1715, 10 Spanish ships and one French ship made its way through the Straits of Florida where they ran into a hurricane. For some reason, the French ship sailed farther off the coast from the Spaniards. The Spanish ships, filled with hundreds of tons of gold and silver, sunk. The french ship survived. That French ship was the Grifon. If you remember the movie The Deep then this ship is familiar to you. Its the ship that Robert Shaw decided had survived but later came back and may have sunk. I’ve provided a script from the scene below. But anyway, there are two things that come to mind from this. First is that Peter Benchley did a fabulous job of basing his fictitious tale on accurate history. I was very surprised that there really was a Grifon that really was the only ship to not sink in a hurricane. The other thing is that about 80% of that gold was recovered by the Spanish by 1716 but the rest did not come back to the surface until the mid 1960’s, which makes me wonder how fictitious Benchley’s tale really was.

One other thing. The people of South Florida today would have nothing in common with the Spaniards of 1715. Nothing except hurricanes. They would be able to use hurricanes as point of reference and commonality. Languages, culture, technology, social systems and political systems all change. But the one thing that is constant is weather. The hurricane that sunk all of those ships and made it possible for Peter Benchley to get rich writing a fictitious story about it and gave us all an opportunity to see Jaqueline Bissett skin diving in her t-shirt, is the same as hurricane Andrew in 1992…or Ivan, or Katrina. The weather has not changed…nor do I think it ever will. In fact, I really wonder how much people have changed. Human nature seems to be constant. Today we run around trying to get ahold of the latest gadget like an I-pod or I-phone or flat screen tv. Maybe we yearn for that new car. Well, the Spanish were no different, they were running around working hard to take people’s gold. Here’s the place for the Ward Cleaver moral to the story about not wasting so much time on chasing for our own personal gold because it may get all washed away by the storms of life….but I’ll avoid that. You’ve probably already seen Ward and June give that speech.

Here’s the script from the scene in The Deep….sorry no pictures of Jacqueline.

New Man At Helm In Miami…Dogs Still Woofing
July 30, 2007

The Dog Days of Summer are still woofing. The pattern that is ahead of us looks hot and humid with rain chances slim and none for the foreseeable future. The future of the National Hurricane Center remains a bit in the air. Earlier in July, Director Bill Proenza was reassigned and Deputy Director Ed Rappaport took his place. If you recall from an earlier post, about 40% of the center’s employees called on the Feds to ditch Proenza because they said he had lowered moral and decreased public perception and confidence in the Center’s ability to forecast hurricanes. Proenza, who was a veteran of the NWS but not the Hurricane Center, had from nearly the beginning of his tenure in early 2007 complained that NOAA was wasting money on birthday celebrations while cutting the funding of the NHC. He also was upset that a critical satellite was nearing the end of its life and no plans had been made for a replacement. His cry was that the loss of the satellite would diminish the center’s ability to make accurate forecasts. Here is the brief story from July 9, 2007:

Proenza then went on to testify before Congress and defended his contention regarding the satellite:

The whole situation seems muddled to me and I still think there must be something more because one would think the boys at the NHC would love a guy trying to get them more funding. But Congress apparently agreed that the situation was untenable. I suppose it came down to firing nearly half the staff or firing the guy in charge.

Nevertheless, its still quiet in the tropics. One system currently SW of Bermuda doesn’t look too menacing from my perspective. Earlier this weekend, one extremely long range model tried creating a hurricane near mid-August but the next day that feature mysteriously disappeared and has yet to show up again. Its supposed to be a big hurricane year but keep in mind, in 2005 when there were 31 systems of Tropical Depression status or greater, the first named storm didn’t show up until late July.

On This Date in History: President Eisenhower signed into law a bill requiring “In God We Trust” be put on all currency and be considered the official US Motto. Since the Civil War the motto had been put on all coins but not paper currency. The “in God We Trust” bill was just two years after Eisenhower pushed for “under God” to be added to the Pledge of Allegiance. Most historians conclude this action was part of a reaction to the Red Scare of the 1950’s. Eisenhower himself has been said to have been raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, while more modern accounts suggest he was raised as a Mennonite. Sources say that Ike abandoned his family religion but that religion was still important to him and in 1953, he was baptised as a Presbyterian, less than a year into his first term as President. Today people claim the insertion of God into state mottoes and the pledge is a violation of the separation of church and state. Many defenders of the verbiage mistakenly think that the inclusion of God was mandated by our founders when in fact, “under God” and “In God We Trust” did not come along until after the founders were dead and gone. I’ll let you make the call.

Woof Woof..Who Let The Dogs Out?
July 29, 2007

The Dog Days of Summer are upon us. As August begins on Wednesday, look for temperatures to be in the low to maybe mid 90’s. Humidity will be on the increase and there will not be a sniff of rain. Now, where does the term Dog Days of Summer come from. I’ve always thought of it as the hot part of summer when the dogs would be wagging their tongues during lazy afternoons. Believe it or not, there is a website that claims to have all of the answers. Here it is:
Snow White went on a little adventure last week to near Campbellsville. Just off of state highway 68 southwest of Campbellsville is Black Gnat, Kentucky. Its a small town almost directly on the Taylor/Green county line. In fact, I wonder if some of the residents live in one county while others live in the other county. Anyway, it seems that the town got its name in the 19th century when they were painting the local school house, or a church, depending on which story you like best. The paint was slow to dry. Perhaps it was during the Dog Days of Summer with high humidity and a low evaporation rate. In any event, a whole bunch of black gnats apparently got stuck to the wet paint on the building, so they named the town Black Gnat. That leads me to wonder what they would have called the town had a flock of birds flown over.
On This Date In History: In 1945, the USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine. The cruiser was returning from Tinian Island where it had secretly delivered the atomic bomb. Because it was a secret mission, details of its schedule were shrouded. So much so that its late arrival went unnoticed. The Americans had intercepted a message from the sub describing the ship they had sunk. The Americans just assumed it was a boast and didn’t follow up. If you remember Jaws then you know the story as told by Captain Quint, who said he was a crew member of the doomed ship. Nearly 1200 men were on the ship. About 400 died from the torpedo blast. 800 men went into the water but only 318 were rescued. No one showed up for a rescue for 84 hours in during that time nearly 500 men were devoured by sharks. Quint said he’d never wear a life jacket again. The Captain of the Indianapolis never sailed again as he became the only officer in US naval history to be court-martialed for losing a ship in war time.
On this date in 1958, NASA was created. I don’t think President Eisenhower envisioned the day when astronauts would drive across the county in a diaper or go into space all boozed up. So much for mankind’s giant leaps.

July 27, 2007

The storms that came through with an upper disturbance rotating around an upper low produced clouds in much of the area. Those clouds were more than likely responsible for keeping enough stability to prevent a bunch of severe thunderstorms…or run of the mill thunderstorms for that matter…in the area. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued but cancelled well before it was set to expire. However, areas in the east and southeastern part of the viewing area had some sun today and so they had some good storms. Trees were reported down in LaRue and Taylor counties with nickel sized hail in Taylor county. Taylor county experience flooding as well with about 4 inches of rain in Campbellsville. That prompted a flash flood warning. The front will be pokey moving through so we’ll have showers in the area for much of the night and perhaps part of Saturday. Hope you got rain because the week ahead looks dry with the dog days of summer showing up for the latter part of the week.

Global Warming Update: Here is an interesting story. The headline asks the provocative question as to whether global warming is responsible for mysterious large balls of ice falling from clear skies. Well, when you read down in the article, a scientist investigating says that the idea its due to global warming is probably wrong, but he doesn’t have any other answer. So, the people writing the story put global warming in the headline to create the illusion even though no facts exist to support the question. This is how myths are born. Here’s the story.

Strong Storms Possible Late Today
July 27, 2007

Here’s the deal. We’ve got warm, moist air in place. The upper low that has been to our northeast will lift up as a cold front dives our way. Its not a particularly strong front but, as discussed previously, this environment is loaded with potential energy and all that we need is an ignition source for the energy. The front will help to lift the air but also every model I have looked at suggests that there will also be a slight wave up upper energy progressing along the boundary as it moves through our area. Now the available energy is not quite as prevalent as last Thursday but I suspect the situation will end up similarly. A few severe thunderstorms will not be out of the question late in the day into the evening. Those prospects will be enhanced if the sun breaks out this afternoon to allow for additional heating. The above maps indicate the SPC’s outline of the area of the slight risk of severe thunderstorms. The top map is the probability of high winds with the highest probability being in the southwest and southern part of our viewing area, but really, any severe storm will raise that prospect. Secondarily, small hail will be possible. Don’t forget about lightning. I suspect there will be ample lightning strikes in any storm and lightning is one of the more dangerous aspects to storms, perhaps in part because we don’t get as alarmed about lightning as say, tornadoes. Speaking of twisters, this situation would not be overly conducive for tornadic activity but its not out of the question that a short-lived spin up might occur with a cell merger or along a bow echo. We’ll keep you up to date should anything develop and just take your precautions as necessary. It might be a good idea to put up any loose lawn furniture or the kids toys, just in case the wind picks up in your backyard.
One thing to keep in mind…if the clouds stick around its possible that would limit the instability sufficiently to keep a lid on the situation. So, this is not a slam dunk situation but is worthy of monitoring because of the potential.

Ben Takes Charge
July 26, 2007

I will post the severe outlook tomorrow. Story is same as yesterday. We’re in a slight risk as afront comes down our way on Friday we will see rain and t’storms and some of them could be strong with wind the primary risk or small hail. Any tornadic activity would be limited to localized situations such as cell mergers or bow echoes.

On This Date In History: The US Postal Service was founded on this date in 1775 with Ben Franklin as the first Postmaster General. I’ll let you look at the postal service history as told by the postal service. Its probably a good idea to look for outside sources if you want the whole story because the USPS will tell you what the USPS wants you to know. Anyway, here’s the link:

An interesting tidbit is that the USPS is not a direct governmental agency anymore. It became and independent agency under the Executive Branch in 1971 and stopped receiving subsidies in the early 1980’s. I think that means it is not accurate to yell at the postman and tell him he works for you or that your tax dollars pay his salary.

On This Date In Baseball: Babe Ruth made his final public appearance in 1948 at the screening of The Babe Ruth Story. Ruth died 3 weeks later from throat cancer…or at least that is the official story. I would not be surprised to find that Ruth really died after watching actor William Bendix portrayal of Ruth in The Babe Ruth Story. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.

Ruth was known for many things but I didn’t know memorable quotes was one of them. Here is one worth remembering and shows that Ruth was indeed a winner and a champion.

“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”

Now…we’re off to scull. Have a nice day.

Storms Possible Friday;Fog Disaster of The Past
July 25, 2007

If you watch TV and see some graphic of a “slight risk” for severe weather over our area for Friday afternoon and night, here’s the deal. We will become much more warm and humid. The upper low we’ve been talking about wandering from east to west will lift up and out to the northeast in advance of a frontal boundary. The boys at the severe storm lab are concerned about the potential for little waves of energy scooting down along the boundary as it presses southeast. The idea is that if these guys do materialize they could blow up into storms in the Midwest and then migrate down our way. We will have a fair amount of energy to work with by then and we may become much more unstable so if one of these little trouble makers does come through in a timely manner, then there would be sufficient available energy to sustain some pretty good storms. Typically, the biggest risk in this type of environment would be small hail and pockets of high winds in individual t’storms. The tornado risk would be limited to small scale situations where a little, brief spin up occurs in a cell merger or perhaps on the edge of a bow echo. In other words, the set up could yield a similar circumstance as we had last week. Don’t get too alarmed though. If you notice, I used the word “if” several times. These little waves are tough to pick out and even tougher to time. Odds are they will be there but the exact timing and placement of those waves will determine where and if we get anything exciting. You know we’ll let you know. Watch our news and keep up on and we’ll let you know how it shakes out.

On This Date In History: It wasn’t supposed to be able to happen. Modern ships. Modern communications. Modern radar. A huge Atlantic Ocean. Yet, two ships managed to run into one another on the high seas off the coast of Nantucket. At 11:10 pm the Swedish liner Stockholm and Italian Liner Adrea Doria collided in heavy fog. The Italians(over 1700 passengers) were coming from Europe to New York while the Swedes(just under 750 passengers) were headed home from the New World. The Stockholm was traveling a bit north of its recommended route in an effort to save time. Fog was thick. The Doria had a much more sophisticated radar and picked up the Stockholm at a distance of 17 miles. The Stockholm radar operator picked up the Doria at 12 miles. Like the Stockholm, the Doria was trying to keep its schedule and only slightly reduced speed in spite of the reduced visibility. So, both Captains seemed to have sacrificed safety in the name of speed.

Apparently, the normal procedure for ships passing was port to port. But for some reason, the Italian Captain decided to turn port and make an unconventional starboard to starboard passage. It is thought the Italian Captain thought that the Swede was doing the same thing. Why these guys didn’t get on the radio and talk about it is a mystery. Or maybe they did and there was a language barrier. Whatever the case, the two slammed into each other. The Stockholm had a reinforced, ice breaker bow and just sliced the Doria. The Stockholm sustained damage and a handful of crew members died. Nearly 50 passengers and crew died on the Doria as the ice-breaker bow cut into passenger quarters. One man watched in horror as his wife was dragged out of the Doria never to be seen again. But one story caught the attention of the press and forever dubbed 14 year-old Linda Morgan as the “the miracle girl.” Morgan was taken from her bunk on the Doria as the two ships separated. She was found on board the Stockholm. I do not think she was charged with being a stow away.

The Doria listed badly so only half of her lifeboats were available for evacuation. The Stockholm though lowered its boats and other liners in the area quickly answered the doomed Doria’s mayday call. It is the greatest maritime rescue in the annals of history with 1660 souls plucked from the sea.

Here is the Bob Symon/ Ward Cleaver moral to this story: You can have the most sophisticated top-shelf equipment and technology in the world. But if you’ve got a doofus operating that stuff, its worthless. Now the self-serving but honest plug: Remember that when choosing which channel to watch next time there is severe weather and you really want to know what is going on.

Return to Earth from and for The Stars
July 24, 2007

The forecast is a little tricky for the weekend. We still have the upper low and attenuating weakness in the atmosphere migrating westward. Today we will have an isolated t’storm south and east but for the most part it will be dry. Still have scattered stuff for Wed and Thu. After that, stay tuned because its a bit unsettled.
On This Date In History: President Kennedy had pledged to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of the decade of the 1960’s. We tend to think that the pledge was fulfilled on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong took one small step for man and on giant leap for man kind. But it was really fulfilled on July 24, 1969 when the Apollo 11 astronauts splashed down in the Pacific Ocean safely. Remember, this had never been done before and no one knew if there were any alien microbes on the moon that could wipe out all of life on the planet. So, the astronauts wore special suits and had gas masks when they got off the helicopter on the deck of the USS Hornet. They then went directly to a trailer on the hanger deck of the carrier where they were quarantined for several days. No word on whether or not it was a FEMA trailer. The picture above shows President Nixon speaking to the astronauts from their home. Can’t have the Commander In Chief being exposed to green cheese bacteria.

July 24, 1959 was the day of the big “Kitchen Debate” between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Vice President Richard Nixon. The pair were at a US Trade and Cultural Fair in Moscow and unexpectedly ran into one another at the kitchen exhibit. They then began a debate about the merits of US technology vs. Soviet technology. At the time,the Soviets were ahead on missile technology and that’s about it. You may have called it the guns vs. butter debate.
The Fallen Star: I have to admit, the only reason I recognize the name Lindsay Lohan is from all of the brushes with the law. On this date in 2007, Lohan was released on bond for charges of DUI and cocaine possession. She just finished her second stint of alcohol rehab. She just starred in a movie with Jane Fonda where Jane apparently gave her a talking to about cleaning up her act. They say that stars are held up as role models for young Americans and some people say that should not be the case as exemplified by this case. But, perhaps this is a good example for young people on the potential destructive nature of “recreational” activities. Much of what we think is “fun” in our youth turns out to be regrettably devastating later on. Fortunately, in this case, no harm was done to others but sadly, we see in the news all the time that poor decision making by one individual can lead to disaster for others and shatter entire families who otherwise would not have been connected to the misbehaving individual. Let us hope Ms. Lohan gets help and wants help. If you find yourself in a situation that you know in your heart could lead to disaster for you or others, don’t be afraid to stand up, extend a hand and accept the help that others are willing to give, before its too late.
Here are the details from

Is The News Today Really Worse Than Ever?
July 23, 2007

Wasn’t the Weekend fantastic? Sunday morning was the 6th day this month that we’ve had mornings start at 62 degrees or less in July. And you know what? Not one record was broken. While certainly not something we expect all of the time, its really not that unusual and that fact alone is another reason why its so very difficult for people who really have lived in the South to be convinced that Louisville is in the South. As for the days ahead, this isn’t going to last. After all, nothing lasts forever whether it be for good or not so good. Look for temperatures and humidity to return to seasonal averages but no 90’s this week. A weakness in the atmosphere will work its way from the east across the eastern US that will destabilize things sufficiently that we will see a risk of wandering afternoon t’storms from say, Tuesday through Saturday. A front on Friday and Saturday I suspect will enhance the prospects. Kinda tough forecast though since its odd to have something going east to west so stay tuned.
On This Date in History: Doesn’t it seem like there is so much bad news these days? And not just bad news but weird, scary stuff that makes one wonder if the world has just gone haywire. Jeffery Dahmer and cannibalism? What about Andrea Yates and killing her children in her Houston home bathtub a few years ago? Well, hold on just a second. Dahmer was not the first person in America to do the things he did, though he did do more of it. And Yates was not the first woman to go and kill her kids. For instance, on this date in 1918 in Nebraska, Della Sorenson killed the first of seven people. She poisoned her sister-in-law’s infant daughter. Two years later, she knocked off her mother-in-law. Then she killed her own daughter and her husband. Four months after her husband’s death, she marries again and her former sister-in-law shows up with her new son. She poisoned him too. The sister-in-law had to have problems of her own because she showed up a few months later with another baby but this one lucked out because the poison didn’t work. After her poison tote board reached 7, Della was finally caught in 1925 when her plot to poison two neighborhood kids with cookies was foiled. She confessed to it all saying, “I like to go to funerals.”
Now that ranks up there with the kid who several years ago shot a bunch of people on a Monday because he didn’t like Mondays. But with modern, instant electronic news these days, stories of all kinds get flashed around the world. TV has lots of newstime to fill, talk radio has to fill its time to talk about something, there’s all sorts of space on the Internet to fill and newspapers and magazines have to come up with something to get your attention from all the other medium available. It worked on me as I have bought newspapers in the grocery store so I could read about the space aliens meeting with President Clinton and Rush Limbaugh!
Anyway, the result is we hear of every little tid bit of any topic that might catch our attention. I found a webpage(see…all kind of stuff in cyberspace) that has but a few of the gruesome, gory and idiotic heinous crimes over the centuries. There’s even one from the early 17th century in Hungary where Elizabeth Bathory was found to have killed hundreds of young girls simply for the sadistic pleasure of torture. The servants who helped her were tried and executed immediately but because she was royalty (a Countess) she was merely incarcerated. From 1660 to 1678, Catherine DeShayes of Paris admitted to tossing over 2500 infants to their fiery deaths in a witchcraft ritual. She didn’t have a royal title so she was burned at the stake, and its probably good for the people of the world back then they did not have cable TV because they would probably think that their world was going crazy, just like many do today. Truth is, mankind has always had awful messed up things happen because of the awful, messed up things some people do….it’s just no one knew about and there was no one around to talk about it every second of every day. If Anna Nicole had died in 1636, would anyone know?
Here’s the notorious website if you dare to care:

Unimaginable Weather On An Unimaginable Date In History
July 20, 2007

I told you to get your work done by 4 pm yesterday. Some folks had some tree and wind damage but that’s all over with and this weekend will be another example of why Louisville is NOT in the South.

On This Date In History: On this date in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin landed on the moon. Michael Collins was left behind in the command module (Columbia) orbiting the moon. Armstrong and Aldrin had landed in the Lunar Module (LEM) called the “Eagle” with but 1 second of fuel remaining. It was nearly a catastrophe. “Houston” was the first word ever spoken from the moon…a point of pride for Texans. The first seven words were, “Houston, Tranquility Base, the Eagle has Landed.” They had landed in the “sea of tranquility” on the moon, a name given to a region that appeared to have few craters or boulders. I’ll spare you more details and let you look it all up yourself. But consider this….the earth spins at 1100 mph. The moon is 243,000 miles from the earth and rotates around the rotating earth in 28 day cycles. Space is 3 degrees Kelvin, or 3 degrees above absolute zero which is when all molecular activity stops. There is no atmosphere. It is the most inhospitable place for any human. There were no micro computers and not even calculators. In order to pull it off, calculations had to be extremely precise. The burning of the engines had to be down to the millisecond. All angles had to be exact as well as speed and acceleration. Any slight mishap would spell disaster. Engineers relied on slide rules and theory. Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin as well as all astronauts, even today, are extremely brave frontiersman. It is absolutely unimaginable what happened on this date in 1969. By all rights, it shouldn’t have happened. It is one of the few times that “Yankee Ingenuity” truly lived up to its billing. If you know physics, you know how remarkable this was…if you don’t…take my word for it, it was unbelievable.

Perhaps more unbelievable, my daughter was born on this date on the 25 year anniversary of America’s greatest triumph.