Archive for March, 2008

Happy Birthday Al
March 14, 2008

We’re in the midst of some crummy weather after a nice couple of days. We’ve got a little system from the southwest bringing rain today. Then we get a break. Then another system from the southwest makes Saturday wet. Good thing we’ve got NCAA basketball on Newschannel 32 on Saturday. By the way…it’s the Ides of March on Saturday. It was doom and gloom for Julius Caesar in 44BC…but its just gloom for us. But, we get a two day reprieve before the next southwestern system comes around. We’ll be dry but cool on Sunday then mild and dry for St. Patrick’s Day….then the next guy comes around to bring rain and maybe t’storms. Tis the season.

On This Date in History: Albert Einstein was born on this date in 1879. Now, just about everyone knows about Einstein and the theory of relativity. I had to derive E=MC(squared) for a physics final. But, there are many many more interesting aspects to Einstein than most people know. It wasn’t until recently that the private papers of the physicist was made available. Walter Isaacson has written a very detailed biography and it reveals quite a bit. For instance, young Einstein couldn’t get a teaching job! The photo above is from when he was a clerk at a patent office. His personality was apparently really grating on many academicians and so he found it hard to get work at any of the universities. If I recall correctly, I think he even couldn’t get a job teaching high school. But I’m not sure. Isaacson co-wrote a book we used in graduate school called The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made and it was quite detailed and revealing about a group of men who largely shaped US post war policy. Well, Isaacson is quite detailed again with Einstein: His Life and Universe . Einstein’s personal life is also very odd, if not interesting. However, I’d recommend not reading it if you want to think of Einstein as the brilliant man with the funny hair. Reality sometimes spoils the image.

You Thought We Had Snow Issues
March 12, 2008

Great looking weather for the next couple of days. A warm front approaches tomorrow which should shift our winds to the SE and our temperatures will moderate. Then the warm front quietly moves through and we move to the low to mid 60’s on Thursday but a cold front comes through late Thursday and rain chances increase. Now, that front gets hung up and an area of low pressure will wander across the boundary from the SW and rain chances return for Saturday before we dry out for Sunday. If we were cold enough, then this would be a perfect snow scenario again, but the Thursday night cold front doesn’t have enough cold air associated with it.


On This Date In History: We had a big snow last weekend and you know what, late season storms often are the most potent snow makers. It’s because often as you head toward spring, you get more systems grabbing Gulf or Atlantic moisture and because it’s still winter, cold air still is able to work in, though not as frequently as the earlier months. But in the earlier months, typically, there isn’t as many opportunities for oceanic moisture to help set up a good snow scenario. On this date in 1888, New York City received some 40 inches of snow in what is known as the Great Blizzard of 1888. Hundreds were killed. Telephone lines were down and the city was paralyzed for several weeks as snow drifted to great levels. For a time, communications with Boston had to go through London! These days, we have the infamous “brine solution” and of course plows and salt trucks and we take things for granted. These guys couldn’t even get ahold of Boston and we get upset when our cable goes out.


On this date in 1831, Clement Studebaker was born in Gettysburg, PA. He and his brother Henry created a wagon building business and became the largest wagon and carriage maker in the world. Much of their success came from their sales to the Union Army during the Civil War. With the advent of the automobile, the company became a successful independent company and during WWII, they found success making amphibious vehicles, trucks and aircraft engines as well as affordable family sedans. But, unlike the Civil War, WWII had another side to it. After the war, the government subsidized the transformation of plants for the big 3 automakers and independents like Studebaker found it hard to competitor. In the mid 1950’s, it merged with Packard but that ventured failed in 1958. Like a Phoenix, Studebaker rose again in 1959 only to finally close for good in 1966.
World War II was not as kind to the Studebaker Brothers as the Civil War had been. History did not repeat itself and now the Studebaker is on the ash heep of history. Clement though had no clue about his company’s demise. He died in 1901, well before the horseless carriage became a part of his company’s legacy.

You Gotta Like This
March 8, 2008

Come on now…it’s a very nice snow. Snow White left to work the prayer line at church this evening. Her meteorologist husband told her…”sure, the roads will be fine! Heavy stuff won’t come for a few hours.” 30 minutes later she’s back telling me that she couldn’t see the lines on the road. I had noted a little bit of sleet but generally thought she was being foolish.

While doing my taxes, I spied out the window from time to time and saw what looked like little misty flakes. Kept wondering when the big stuff would get here…then I went out to the car and saw that our steps that had been clean 3 hours before were not just covered, but had about 3 inches of snow on them. The drive way, which had been cleared, was totally covered. Two hours later, my footprints were all gone and I had snow drifting up to the front door. The steps had disappeared. So much for the expert opinion. Lesson number one: always listen to Snow White or you end up being Dopey.

So, Snow White and I went for a two AM walk. No cars except one. No people, except three. The wind whispered through the trees. We made snow angels. It was quite fun. It was our second walk of the day though the sun was up before and it was about a 2 hour hike instead of the one hour after midnight jaunt.

See….I’m from Texas…closer to the real South than around here. And we don’t get snow like this in the real South and not much in the part of Texas that I’m from. So in my ten years here, I make it a point to always get out in the snow as much as I can. It just so happened that it was a day off for me. And you know what….we’re going into the weekend. The schools are out for a couple of days and most businesses won’t be interrupted. Couldn’t have happened at a better time so I hope everyone takes the time to enjoy it. It’s a wonderful powdery snow with no ice to mess things up. Probably the best powder I’ve seen here in all of my decade as a resident…even the best I’ve seen since I last skied at Beaver Creek.

Now..I may be from Texas (and maybe even dopey) but even we have some smarts that I could pass on to some criminals around here. I always figured that on days and nights like this, the crime rate would be zero. I mean, even the criminals can’t get around too good. Well, the one car and 3 people we saw tonight was an SUV with 3 police officers. They were hot on the trail of a criminal. They asked Snow White and I if we had seen anyone and I said, “no, but there are some fresh footprints in the snow.” The officer acknowledged my observation and commented that they were following the same footprints. Seems a not too smart burglar left a trail that only Hansel and Gretel would love. My guess is the creator of the prints won’t spend the night in an oven, but will probably be cooling his heels nonetheless.

Be sure to thank a police officer for being out in weather only Dopey could love.

Believe It. Big Snow
March 7, 2008

if you are coming to this blog post from an outside link, I invite you to CLICK HERE for other items that may be of interest. feel free to scroll through.

I’m not even going to bother with another map. The previous one basically applies. Only real difference is that the southeastern part of the viewing area, such as Green and Marion counties will probably get 3-6 inches. Much of the viewing area will be 6-12 inches. Also, probably there won’t be much rain early on and then a bit of sleet but this will be mainly a snow event for the whole area, save for the east and southeast that may have the mix last farther into Friday.

The event will begin early Friday. Driving conditions should be fine in the morning. It’s the afternoon and evening drive that will be problematic. Pretty good snow from late morning until late afternoon. Then a break in the action. Then Friday night through Saturday morning there will be moderate to perhaps brief periods of heavy snow. There may be some flurries through Saturday afternoon. It will be cold all weekend…while some people may sneak above freezing Sunday afternoon, most of us will probably below freezing until Monday afternoon.

Now, I had some kid quibbling over whether he would get 9 inches or 12 inches…you know what..at that point it doesn’t make much difference.

Oh..one other thing. Some of the models throw out as much as 16 inches and that may hold true BUT…the first part of the event, the ground will still be fairly warm at first. Remember, we got up to 54 degrees on Thursday. Our temperatures overnight will fall to the low 30’s and then pretty much stay around the freezing mark on Friday. So, it will take a little time for the ground to get cold enough to support accumulations. Further, the early snow will be pretty wet and so the early accumulation will compact a bit easier. Effective snow totals therefore may be a bit less than official snow totals. Then again, the later snow will probably be more than just a 10-1 ratio…a more fluffy variety of say 15 to 1 ratio. So maybe the late Friday snow totals may be enhanced somewhat by a larger ratio.

Any way you slice it, this is our best shot at a very substantial snow in about 10 years. The last good one we had was around Christmas of 2004 and that wasn’t all that good because there was a bunch of sleet and freezing rain in between. A few years ago, there was an event in which up to 3 feet of snow fell in the northern part of the viewing area and Louisville got sleet and a little snow. So areawide, this is the best in some time.

Let’s all enjoy it.

Break Out the Snow Shoes!
March 6, 2008

Hey. I often make fun of snow forecasts by saying, “don’t break out the snow shoes just yet.” Well, some people may need the snow shoes. If you can’t read the map above very well, it’s the early afternoon Meso-ETA. It paints a snow total of 10 to 18 inches along the counties either side of the Ohio River. That may be a stretch but, I’ll tell you what, I have noticed over the past couple of days that there is very strong flow coming up from the Eastern Gulf of Mexico so there is a whole mess of moisture coming up. So, that’s not a problem. Late runs indicate the slight eastern wiggle is consistent and the cold air does filter in.

Now…remember that the intitial activity may have some sleet or rain mixed in and that we got to the lower 50’s on Thursday so it will take some time for the ground to get cold. Look for accumulations on the grass first then the roads. Travel will most likely be the most difficult for the evening rush hour Friday and then all Friday night through early Saturday.

While not everyone will get the heaviest snow, everyone should get a fair amount with lesser amounts tapering off pretty rapidly with distance from the Ohio River. But if you get a bunch of snow, just enjoy it. It’s the weekend.

Then ask yourself if you really think that Louisville is in the South.

Winter Storm is Coming
March 6, 2008

The Top photo is the GFS. The lower photo is the ETA using a modified method of snow accumulation. Both have shifted slightly Southeast. The gradient is still extremely tight and have from Louisville northward anywhere from 6-12 inches of snow. It is a very slight shift…only about 30 miles or so but as previously mentioned, a little wiggle like this makes all the difference. What is clear is that someone in the viewing area will get a snootful of snow. Others will get a fair amount, lets say 1-3 inches. If you click on the images, you should get an idea of how tight the gradient is. Two things to remember: One is that these are just what some machine thinks and its possible the wiggle may be farther north; the other is that if you like snow, it’s a good sign that both models are pretty similar. However, when delving into some of the numerical data, some suggest all snow while others suggest a fair amount of sleet which would cut down on snow totals.
Get your work done today and expect a wintry situation, especially late Friday through Saturday. The event will probably not wind down until late Saturday. Saturday can be expected for most areas to be all snow. The event will start early Friday with many areas getting a cold rain before it turns over to sleet and snow. The northern part of the viewing area should expect all snow. It’s not out of the question that some areas in the Southern Indiana may get more than a foot. This may be fun.

Latest on the Storm
March 6, 2008

Here is a snapshot of what might happen. It’s a little small but you can see that the heaviest stuff is in southern Indiana. Its a very tight gradient of snowfall. For instance, it goes from 2 inches in SE Jefferson County but at the river its 6 inches. We are looking for 1-3 inches south of the river, just north of the river in a narrow band some 3-6 inches and then in an area in Southern Indiana that would include perhaps Paoli and Seymour and points to the northwest, 6-12 inches. So…why not so much snow?

There is a developing consensus that we will get rain for much of the day on Friday. Perhaps some sleet, especially along and just north of the river. The way it appears now, we don’t get any snow until after midnight on Friday and the snow carries on overnight and through much of Saturday. Southern Indiana in the 6-12 inch area gets all snow the whole time. The extreme southern part of the viewing area will largely get rain with just perhaps some minor accumulations on Saturday.

Here’s the rub. First off, the models are in fair agreement but, the storm is just now starting to get itself going and really doesn’t wrap up until late Thursday night. It won’t be until that time that we will be able to see exactly where it will track. So, if we assume that the current consensus holds regarding the general track, the specifics will be the variable. If the current thinking is off by say, 30 miles to the East, then the heavier snow would shift and the 6 inch line would be pretty close to Louisville. If the track shifts 30 miles farther west, then the 1 inch line gets closer to Louisville. Keep in mind that the trends with the model runs for the last few days has been farther and farther west, which is what we had been looking at as a possibility. Now, does this mean that it will continue to shift west? It’s possible. Can it shift significantly to the East? I suppose it’s possible but not probable as that would be extremely unusual.

I suspect that the general track will hold true but the little variable with regard to the exact snow gradient lines will be troublesome. Again, I’m talking about a little wiggle of 30 miles which would alter things for many people dramatically. When you consider that the earth is 25000 miles around and the storm we’re trying to track really hasn’t even formed yet, it’s pretty tough for computers as well as people. Also remember that, regarding snow, if it were rain there wouldn’t be any question. Generally, the liquid equivalent of 6 inches of snow is .60 inches of rain and 3 inches would be .30″. In that situation, you might hear that we were expecting a quarter to a half inch of rain and everyone would say, “Okay, you got that pretty much right.” No big deal, right? But snow…people tend to squawk and call in with ridicule if we said 3 inches of snow and you got 6 inches instead. So it’s real tough. Even more so when you call for an inch of snow and instead you get a half inch. The difference in that is .10″ and .05″ of rain! That is really negligible but with snow….it’s really tough.

This should show itself Thursday. Tune in on TV and Jay will have some pretty good graphics to show you the story.

Pay Attention!
March 5, 2008

I’m watching election coverage tonight so I will keep what happened on this date in history to myself. But I won’t keep to myself what is going on weather-wise. I mentioned yesterday that the attention being stirred up by wild pronouncements may have shrouded the real trouble-maker at the end of the week. At this point in the game, I would say that the data is more promising for accumulation of snow on Friday than this last system (today) 72 hour prior. It’s a real possibility BUT…some of the latest data is suggesting a shift in the path..pretty significant. If the data remained as it is, then we get snowed on. If the trend continues of shifting farther west, then we don’t. Last week there were clear clues that we’d get rain. This time, the clues are more difficult to ascertain.

Like the last storm, the current culprit for any potential problems hasn’t even formed yet. Nevertheless, un-like last week when I we were pooh-poohing the storm, I’d tell you this one bears watching. Like last week’s storm, this guy should show itself in the next 24 to 36 hours.

Now, I’ve got to get back to the game!

Rain The Big Money Grab
March 4, 2008


Forecast is right on schedule. Rain and more rain. The front will ease into the area and get stuck in the southern portion of the viewing area. If you can, imagine the front as a big wedge, similar to a cow catcher on the front of an old west steam engine. In this case, the front bottom edge of the cow catcher is where the surface front is and then it slopes upward as you move farther north. When you get to about 5000 feet, you are back over the southern part of Indiana. It is typical that the heaviest rain in this type of set up would be directly under that 5000 foot level. Therefore, its most likely that the heaviest rain totals will be in Southern Indiana and lesser amounts across the rest of the viewing area. 1-3 inches for much the area seems about on target with the higher amounts for the northern part of the viewing area. The rain will most likely end by midday on Tuesday. After a period of drying, its possible the event may end as a few insignificant snow showers. With all of the hub-bub surrounding this Tuesday snow nonsense, some folks may have lost focus on the latter part of the week. We will be cold after Wednesday and an upper system comes in Friday that may be more interesting than this sloppy, yuckadoo rain. Don’t fret about severe weather as that will be the claim for the Dixie States. The latest map from the boys at the Severe Storms Lab is above.
On This Date in History: Congress has the Constitutional right to pass a budget….they get to spend our money. They even get to pay themselves and set their own salaries. Whenever they give themselves a raise, some people are likely to cause a ruckus. On this date in 1873, Congress outdid itself. They gave themselves a raise. They gave themselves a 50% raise. They made the 50% raise retroactive to two years prior. Perhaps as a bit of subterfuge, Congress also doubled the salary of the President and that of the Supreme Court justices. Not just some people, but a whole lot of people were quite upset. Those people are called citizens and those citizens have the right to vote on Congress.
The act passed became known to the general public as the “Salary Grab Act.” It took effect on March 4, 1873 which coincided with the beginning of President Grant’s second term. 1874 was a Congressional election year and I suppose the members of Congress got a snootful from their constituents for the rest of 1873 as on January 20, 1874 Congress repealed the part of the act that applied to them but kept the raises for the President and the Supreme Court. I suppose one might surmise that this event was pivotal because the Democrats regained control of Congress in the 1874 elections.
Now, that in itself was significant because the Republicans had been following some sort of plan for Reconstruction and the Democrats controlling Congress put a monkey-wrench into those plans. It’s possible that the “Salary Grab Act” was partly responsible for the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of civil strife that would last until the 1960’s.
See…the next presidential election in 1876 ended with a controversy, similar to the 2000 election. Democrat Sam Tilden received 250,000 more votes than Republican Rutherford B Hayes and initially he led the electoral count 184 to 165 with 20 votes in dispute. Those 20 votes came largely from 3 states in which both sides claimed to have won the electoral vote. Ultimately a deal was cut in which the electors in dispute would be awarded to Hayes and give him the victory 185 to 184 and in return, Hayes agreed to effectively end Reconstruction and pull Federal troops out of the states of the former Confederacy. Had the Republicans retained control of the Congress in the previous election, then they may not have been forced to trade the White House for Reconstruction and that may have altered the course of Civil Rights in this country for the next 100 years.
Another fine example of how a relative blip in history can cause a potential big bop down the road.

Rain, Storms and the Republic of Texas
March 3, 2008


Late Sunday the SPC identified an area well to our south for a moderate risk of severe weather for Monday night through early Tuesday. The map above is from Sunday evening. We are not in the slight risk. As I’ve been telling you for days, an area of low pressure will form along the front in East Texas. As it moves our way, rain chances will increase. We will probably get in the neighborhood of 1-3 inches of rain. In other words, its developing just as we’ve been saying for the better part of a week. There may be some minor flooding with this event. On down the line, we may need to keep an eye on the Ohio River as rain and snow melt early this week will cause a water rise toward the end week. Snow will be minimal and basically worthless as ground temperatures will be too warm to support much accumulation. We will have a fair amount of wind energy aloft that may come down to the surface in scattered t’storms late Monday, most likely Monday night or early Tuesday. That is why we are in the 5% range but not the slight risk. We will get so much rain that it should dampen our chances for rough weather and the best dynamics will be to our south. My guess is that the areas in the lower Mississippi Valley that had the biggest thumping from tornadoes on Feb 4 will be under the gun again. Our biggest threat will come from gusty winds and perhaps some hail. Rain amounts will be problematic in our area. Stay tuned to newschannel 32 for updates Monday on how this thing shakes out. Jay will really nail it all down for you.


On This Date in History: On this date in 1836, about 187 men were huddled in a mission at San Antonio de Bexar in the Mexican Republic. They were a band of Texicans…mainly expatriated Americans living as Mexican citizens. The Mexican government under the rule of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna who had welcomed the new residents provided that they lived under Mexican law. Trouble was, these settlers to Texas were an independent sort and wanted to do things their way, which was often the American way. At that time, many Americans had slaves and these Texicans wanted to keep their slaves but Mexican law forbade slavery. This was one of the issues the Texicans had with the Mexican government.


Santa Anna had sent various armies into the region to restore order and make certain the settlers were well healed. But, his surrounding and siege of the Alamo put the Texans to the test.


On March 1, the leaders of the region got together and in one day wrote a declaration of independence. It was signed on this date in 1836 by many men, included Sam Houston. The former United States Senator from Tennessee and potential United States presidential candidate was put in command of the fledgling Texas Army and was made General. But he needed time to raise and train his army. So the men at the Alamo, with Texas heroes such as David Crockett, James Bowie and William Barrett Travis held out instead of retreating. Just 4 days after Texas declared its independence, the Alamo fell as the victorious Santa Anna gloated over the death of all 187 defenders.


The Texans got their revenge though because in April of that year, after weeks of retreating and running, General Sam Houston led his men to a site on Buffalo Bayou near the city that today bears his name. The Mexican Army was resting at its camp with Santa Anna said to have been in his tent with the famous spy, the Yellow Rose of Texas. Though far outnumbered, Houston’s Army defeated the Mexican Army and captured Santa Anna in just 26 minutes. Santa Anna was forced to capitulate and sign papers recognizing Texas’ Independence. Not to be a poor sport, Houston allowed Santa Anna to return to Mexico City. But, just like the Brits didn’t really accept America’s independence until the War of 1812, Santa Anna didn’t really accept the terms of Texas’ independence until he was defeated in the Mexican War of 1846 which was fought in a dispute between the US and Mexico over the boundaries of the then 28th state of the Union.


Prior to that date, Texas was an independent nation for ten years. It’s president…..Sam Houston. After becoming a state, Sam Houston served as a Senator; the only man to serve in the United States Senate from two different states. Houston then was elected governor of Texas but resigned at the outset of the Civil War after Texas seceded. Texas joined the Confederacy and lost the father of the country…just for a time. Today, Texans proudly recall the exploits of Sam Houston, who along with others Texas patriots, declared his independence on this date in 1836.


The flag above was the one flown at the Alamo. The 1824 was a reference to the United States of Mexico as recognized by a liberalized Constitution in 1824. The Texicans, or Texians, were initially in support of a larger revolutionary movement throughout Mexico that said its aim was to force the largely totalitarian government of Santa Anna to follow the Constitution.


Snow White says this sounds too much like a textbook and too much Texan-like. I say, so what…It’s Texas Independence Day!!!