Archive for August, 2007

Cleo and Felix?
August 31, 2007

Bad news is that rain is not a real dominant feature in our forecast. Good news is that it will be fairly decent weather…still pretty warm but the humidity will be limited for a time. So, what is of interest in the weather? Well, there is a little system trying to develop about 450 miles east of the Windward Islands. A hurricane hunter will probably go investigate. On the satellite it looks like its getting its act together but I’m not seeing too much showing up on the models yet, though there may be one hinting at it being a southern guy like Dean was. But, it will take a while for the other models to pick up on it so we’ll have a better idea in the coming days. If it becomes a named storm, which is possible, it would be Felix.

On This Date In History: Really, it was fairly significant in many regards but the one that jumps out at me is the coincidental mark of progress for African Americans. In 1967, Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as the nations first African American Supreme Court Justice. Marshall had a distinguished career marked by his influence upon rulings regarding civil rights. On August 30, 1983 U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Guion S. Bluford became the first African American astronaut as he was a mission specialist on the 8th Space Shuttle flight, the first launched at night. Bluford was a graduate of Penn State with an Aerospace Engineering degree and later flew 144 combat missions in Vietnam. After flying in 3 more shuttle missions and logging over 700 hours in space, Bluford left NASA and became the vice president of an engineering firm in Ohio.

On August 30, 30 BC, Egyptian Queen Cleopatra took her own life. She had an incredibly sordid life that involved all sort of murder and mayhem as well as affairs with such luminaries as Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Perhaps the cruelest blow came to Antony. Seems the future Octavius Caesar was on the march and had Antony on the ropes. Cleo fled to hide in a mausoleum. Someone goes and tells Antony that she was dead. Distraught, Antony falls on his sword. As he lay dying from the self inflicted wound, a messenger arrives and says “uhh…General…we made a mistake…Queen Cleo is not dead, she’s just hiding.” In the words of Maxwell Smart, the guy probably said, “sorry about that Chief.” So, what does Cleo do? When Octavian arrives on the scene, she tries to seduce him! Well, that tactic worked with Julius and Marc, but perhaps she had passed her prime because Octavian would have none of it. So, she killed herself.

The photo above is from a 1917 film titled Cleopatra. Clever name. It was a silent movie starring the pictured Theda Bara as Cleo and the unforgettable Thurston Hall as Antony, also pictured above. She is considered to be Hollywood’s first “fabricated” star as studios made up all sorts of stuff to boost her popularity. They said her name was an anagram for “Arab Death” as she often portrayed vampiress-like roles. If anyone cared to look it up they would find she in fact was raised in a rather humble Jewish household in Cincinnati. She was the first to deliver the line “kiss me, my fool” though it has been misquoted in popular culture as “kiss me, you fool.”

As you can tell…boring weather brings forth all sorts of randomness of useless information.

One Big Kat
August 29, 2007

I know that I promised you items on Eugene and Christine, but you’ll just have to wait. Instead, we will talk a bit about Katrina.

On This Date in History: In 1968, after great tumult, protest and controversy, Hubert Humphrey got the Democratic nomination for President. In 1949, the Soviet’s exploded their first atomic bomb. In the end, combatants both had similar fates; Humphrey and the Soviets both ended up going to pieces and never recovering.

On this date in 1960, Donna was born…that is a hurricane. But the only hurricane for the date that anyone will remember…that is until the next big bopper…is Katrina. The images associated with today’s little item is that of Katrina just after landfall and an image of the flooding in New Orleans.
Now, here are some things to remember from Katrina. Katrina was only a category three hurricane. Its winds had diminished just prior to landfall. I have not read the official post-mortem on the storm but I suspect it will say that it was going through an eyewall replacement cycle at landfall. That is a natural process for a hurricane when new eye forms as the old one collapses. The maximum winds decrease typically and the energy gets dispersed somewhat. So the result was that 100 mph winds went beyond Mobile but the top winds were down to 120-130 mph. But, remember, the storm previously had winds of 175 mph and just because you reduce the winds does not mean the sea will react immediately so the storm surge remained what would be associated with a category 5 storm. The surge in Mississippi was well over 30 feet in places. That is because it swept up the water from the mouth of the Mississippi, which is the Mississippi Trench. The water there is about 10,000 feet deep. The water along the shelf of the Mississippi coast is goes from about 90 feet. There is no place for the water to go but on the land.

Two things to note….New Orleans was not hit by a hurricane. Mississippi was hit by a hurricane. This was not the worst case scenario for New Orleans…not by a long shot.
Here is a link to a site from the New Orleans Times Picayune which shows the progression of the flooding and is notable because it illustrates some variances with national media reports. First, when reporters at 8 and 9 am in New Orleans were reporting live that the city “dodged a bullet” in fact the east part of town, not the lower 9th ward, had been flooded for a few hours. Second, there were some breaches but the water pressure put on the system really stretches the limitations of engineering in that area to prevent such an occurrence. Third, much of the flooding was caused by overtopping of levees. If the corps had built levees the size of the Great Pyramid, that would not have happened but does anyone think that 30 years ago the city would have allowed such eyesores? And finally, the city was flooded largely from a limited storm surge from Lake Borgne, not Lake Pontchartrain and some of the flooding was caused by a political decisions by a local leader who ordered a pumping station abandoned when the workers wanted to stay. You will see that toward the end of the presentation from the Times-Picayune.

You Go!
August 26, 2007

I’m having too much fun to have time to talk too much. But I will tell you that in the coming days I have news to tell you about Eugene and Christine…not the magical jeep and the car…..
On This Date In History: All sorts of things went on involving George Washington and the Soviets and Charles Lindbergh and in 1968 the infamous Democrat National Convention began. But the biggest news of the day was that in 1985 the Yugo was introduced in the United States…and there was much rejoicing.

Pooh, Dean and Hawaii
August 21, 2007

Dean slipped farther and farther south on its trek across the Caribbean…at least the forecast did…it really moved almost due west as the ridge over the SE US, the same one that’s heating us up, expands and gets fatter. As it does, it prevents the storm from turning right. Its a strong high and has to be to some degree for it to overcome the Coriolis force. I should think its about at equilibrium because the storm has pretty much gone due west meaning that its attempt to turn right is met with an equal force from the right and the result is a straight line in between. All bodies moving on a fairly large scale in the northern hemisphere want to turn right..that is a result of the Coriolis force which is brought about by the spinning of the earth. The water going down the drain is not affected by the Coriolis force….its too small of a scale. Dean should regain some strength and go to Vera Cruz. It wont be a big bopper again but will still be formidable. The Mexican government has removed some 14000 oil field workers from the Bay of Campeche but I guess that the global markets didn’t know there is a significant supply of oil from the Southern Gulf because the oil prices don’t seem to be affected too much. ..but I bet local gas stations will react accordingly.

On This Date in History: Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959…but the new flag with the 50th star wasn’t official until 1960. Guess the Betsy Ross’s of the day were a bit slow. In 1920, Christopher Robin was born. Not the character but the kid who was the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh’s buddy. He was the third child of AA Milne and Daphne Milne born in London. In 1925, they bought a farm in Sussex, UK next to a 100 acre wood and about that time, Christopher had accumulated a number of stuffed animals to go along with his first, a small bear that he received when he was about one. This inspired AA Milne and he gained great success as a writer. Now, my mother had visions of me being like Christopher Robin. I always thought the portrayal on the TV specials was like a girl. We lived in California and we had a canyon with rattle snakes and coyotes. We played there and dug underground forts, played war and had dirt clod fights. I don’t think Chris could have hung with me and my friends.

Dean Less of a Threat
August 19, 2007

Hurricane Dean will prove exceedingly problematic for the international vacation destinations of Cancun and Kingston. Damage will probably be significant though Cancun has some of the better engineering for their hotels so often the resort hotels fair way way better than the town. The models are generally coming into a consensus that a ridge of high pressure…generally the one that has brought us all the hot weather…will re-establish itself quickly and squash out an upper low traveling from Florida across the Gulf. That will take away any reason for Dean to take a more northerly track and, in fact, the official forecast has it going a bit farther south, perhaps making landfall after it gets away from the Yucatan somewhere near Tampico, Mexico. Should that occur, affects even on South Texas would be minimal though the surf may be up at Port Isabel. There are oil rigs in the Bay of Campeche so I suspect that will be sufficient excuse for speculators to push up the price of oil, though I hope they take a bath in doing so. Around here, if you went to the state fair on Saturday you got the best weather of the week. From this point forth, humidity and temperatures will be on the rise. An isolated shower may pop up late Sunday but the better opportunity will be on Monday with moisture from what was Tropical Storm Erin works its way into the Midwest and may spill our way. The next chance for real rain shows up next weekend and its possible that will mark the beginning of the end for the hot streak we’ve been on that so far has produced 20 consecutive 90 degree days at the airport.
On This Date in History: Toyota Motor Company was established as a division of Toyota Automatic Loom Works in 1937. Obviously, the loom business took a backseat. By the way, I had a text in computer class that claimed the first computer was the loom.
In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by Tennessee giving the amendment the required two-thirds of state legislature adoption necessary to make it a part of the Constitution. In 1890, Wyoming had been the first state to allow the women’s vote. Seems that the movement was more popular in the West because within a few years, Colorado, Idaho and Utah all allowed women to vote. Following the Civil War, the 15th Amendment gave African-American men the right to vote but women were left out. In 1869, the National Women’s Suffrage Association was founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Somehow, Anthony got all the ink because later she found herself on the silver dollar and Stanton…well..I dunno what she got. Anyway, in spite of opposition from several men’s groups, women finally got the right to vote everywhere and have been making gains ever since. And rightfully so. Women make up a majority of the population. Besides that, my grandfather used to say that “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy” and if one believes that adage, then its absolutely amazing that men kept women from having a voice in the political process so valued by the nation. It took 133 years from the adoption of the Constitution in 1787 to give every adult the right to participate in our republican form of government and enjoy the light from the beacon on the hill beginning with white landholding males, to white males to all males and finally to all adults. One of the more perplexing aspects to our history…and the experiment began by the founding fathers continues to this date.

Dean Has Potential
August 17, 2007

Hurricane Dean is steadily gaining strength. The official track has it going across the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula and heading toward Brownsville, Texas which is as far south as you can get in the Lone Star State without being in Mexico. While it would lose intensity as it crosses land, it would likely regain some strength and pose significant threat to South Texas. Here’s the rub…the track beyond a few days is far from certain. There are models which show up with big time differences. While the current track makes a ton of sense, the NHC’s model that has been historically the most accurate, does not agree. That is why if you have interests along the Western Gulf Coast you should probably tell them to at least keep an eye on the situation. I’m not going to share all of the model data because there are over a dozen of them and because it could raise unwarranted alarm. But I will tell you that one puts a 916mb hurricane in the Gulf. For a frame of reference, Katrina in 2005 bottomed out at 902 mb when it had winds of 175 mph. It did not maintain that strength at landfall. Camille in 1969 was 905 mb and supported winds of 200 mph at landfall. Again, this is just a computer model talking to us and there are many variables such as interaction with land. But I can tell you, with the current structure of Dean, a storm developing at some time to that intensity is not totally out of the question and a real possibility. Dean has the potential to be a big bopper. Fortunately, hurricanes typically are not able to maintain such intensity for long so even if it does that offshore, it would likely decrease somewhat as Katrina did at landfall. Then again, Katrina was a Category 3 hurricane at landfall and it did not hit New Orleans; the eye passed over Mississippi. So storms with such a potential should be watched closely.

Around here, the heat goes on..but at least not quite as hot as yesterday. The 105 at the airport at 2:37 pm was just two degrees shy of the all time record in Louisville.

Big Heat-Big Storms Possible
August 16, 2007

We hit 104 today around 2 pm. That’s a record and not far from the all-time record of 107 set three times. A front is sliding down our way and some big storms are firing up. Its not a slam dunk guarantee that you will get severe storms, though with the heat and humidity as it is, the atmosphere is pretty unstable so watches will probably be issued. Keep an eye on Newschannel 32 or on our website for updates this afternoon and evening. Gusty winds should be the biggest threat.

Erin fizzled after making landfall north of Corpus Christi, Texas. It has brought very heavy rain to part of the Houston area. Dean is a hurricane that as of 2pm was up to 90 mph. I checked out the reports from the Hurricane Hunter as it passed through and it found a central pressure of 970 mb. That should continue to drop and winds will correspondingly increase. The official track takes it across the Yucatan with about 135 mph winds but the track and intensity may change somewhat. Of the 8 models I looked at, 6 of them take it across the Yucatan. One takes it southwest toward Belize and one has it hugging the southern coast of Cuba. Whether or not the storm affects the US will be dependent on how the ridge of high pressure that is steering it behaves. If the western periphery breaks down, then it would turn toward Texas, perhaps even toward the upper Texas coast. If it stays like it is, then it would follow a similar path as Erin. If it expands, then it’s Mexico’s problem. To affect us, it would have to turn toward the Texas/Louisiana border, which is not completely inconceivable as that is way down the road, but at the same time, there is not a whole lot of consensus on that occurrence.

Dog Days are Meat and Potato Days in Tropics
August 15, 2007

The dog days of summer spell hot conditions around here but they also coincide with the height of the hurricane season in the North Atlantic. August and September have on average the greatest number of hurricanes, though there has been a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin at least once in every month except February. The big boppers typically come in August and September. Camille in 1969 with 200 mph winds was a August storm, as was Andrew and Katrina. The greatest natural disaster in US history was the Galveston hurricane. If you look on a map of famous storms, it simply will say “September 1900.” Galveston is on a barrier island chain that stretches along the entire Texas Coast….really nothing more than a wide sandbar.

They don’t know exactly how many people were killed but it runs between 6000 and 12000. The storm surge was such that Galveston Island was completely covered by the Gulf of Mexico and there was no way off the island. The death toll is inexact because the island was cut off from the rest of the world for days and the bodies were all piled up in debris. They tried to bury them at sea but after a few days, the bodies washed back on shore so huge funeral pyres were set with many of the victims unrecognizable. At the time, Galveston was the “Wall Street of the South”, was the financial leader in the South with I think the second busiest port in the country and had about 50,000 residents as the largest city in Texas. Following the storm, the first public/private financed public works project was begun: The Houston Ship Channel. Today, Houston is the fourth largest city in the country, is the global headquarters to many petrochemical companies and has numerous foreign consulates. The port of Houston is the second busiest in the world with nearly 50% of the nation’s refining capacity within 50 miles of downtown Houston. In short, Houston, which had maybe 25,000 residents in 1900, by 1970 was everything Galveston was in 1900 all because of a hurricane. The Army Corps of Engineers raised the entire Galvestion Island by some 14 feet and built a 15 foot seawall to protect the city. Another stronger hurricane hit the island in 1915 but had minimal damage.

Today, Galveston is not much bigger than it was in 1900 with about 60,000 residents. Houston has over 2 million with greater Houston being home to about 5 million. A storm surge of 6 feet still leaves all routes to the mainland impassable.

If you have vacation plans next week, pay attention to Dean. Its just a tropical storm now but is forecast to move toward Jamaica in 5 days with winds at least at 120 mph. Do not be surprised to see it more formidable than that. Though its not totally clear now, I suspect it will be a major Gulf hurricane, but a lot of things can happen. However, the potential is there. If it doesn’t go into the Gulf, then it will go into Mexico or maybe across the isthmus of lower Mexico and emerge in the Pacific. If it does and it holds together, then it would get a new name. All of those scenarios are greater than the prospects of it going up the east coast. Tropical Storm Erin will move into South Texas in the next 36 hours with the biggest threat being rain. Tropical systems that are not well defined can often produce tremendous amounts of rain and the fear is that water logged Texas from Houston to the Hill Country will get entirely too much additional rainfall. When I was a kid, Tropical Storm Claudette meandered into the Houston Area…the hometown of Nolan Ryan, Alvin, got about 44 inches of rain in 24 hours. I think that is still the national record for daily rainfall.

I Say I Was Right After All.
August 13, 2007

I was more right than I thought. I went out last night and saw maybe 5 meteors between 1 and 2 am. We saw far more than that on Saturday night. For me, the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower was Saturday.

A tropical depression is way out in the Atlantic. It is forecast to develop into a hurricane in about 5 days. One model has been advertising this for some time but it keeps on flopping around all over the place as to where it goes. It will say an east coast storm, then a Gulf Storm…then the east coast. So we’ll see. But if you have vacation plans you should keep an eye out. My guess is that its got a better chance for the Caribbean and Gulf. Keep in mind its still about 5 days away from the Antilles.

This Date In History: In 1950, the first hurricane name was given. It was Abel. From 1950 until 1953 it went Abel, Baker, Charlie, etc. They went to women’s names after that. In the 1970’s, women’s groups got upset so they went to alternating male and female names. Then they decided to go to more inclusive names and so it has an international flavor. When we get some rather odd names (Georges, Flavio) people want to know who comes up with them. The World Meteorological Organization sets up 6 lists that rotate from year to year. If there is a particularly substantial storm, then the name is retired and a new name is added. I have no idea how they come up with the names…..if there is some sort of name knights of the round-table or what. I do know my favorite name is Bob, though it has yet to live up to its powerful name yet so it remains in the rotation.

August 12, 2007

Last night was a good night to see the Perseid Meteor Shower, but not the best. I made a mistake in that I read that Sunday was the best time….well, after midnight is Sunday, right? Well, as it turns out, Sunday night and Monday morning is the peak for this years shower. Hope you didn’t strain your eyes too much. If it makes you feel any better, Snow White and I ventured out until nearly 2 in the morning to see the show and we saw a few meteors, but not what we expected. As Porky Pig would say, “sorry about that folks.” But the same viewing conditions apply for tonight so have at it. I thought of editing yesterday’s message to make it look like I knew it all along, but my staff and I believe in honesty and I”m not a politician, I’m a Meterologist and I know you all expect honesty and integrity from your weather reports.
Seriously, my humble apologies.