On This Date in History:
Back in the 18th Century, the Spanish were running around what is now Central and North America, pretty much on a mission of conquest and not so much on a mission of colonization. My take has always been that the main goal of the Spanish was to secure gold and other treasures for the crown rather than develop the territories as on-going concerns. While they were conquering, they also decided that the defeated needed to be saved and so they set out to make the natives Christians. They set up a number of missions where missionaries could “civilize” those who were under the thumb of the conquistadors.
One such mission was Mision San Antonio de Valero. Construction on the mission began in 1724. By 1793, the Spaniards decided to secularlize the 5 missions in the area and distributed the lands to the Indians in the region. I’m not sure why they did that but I doubt if it was guilt over taking it in the first place. A guess would be that the “natives were getting restless” and it was a way to appease them so they wouldn’t have a revolt on their hands. What once had been mission lands became their own and they continued their farming. Just after the turn of the century, the Spanish decided that the old mission would make a great fort and so there they stationed a cavalry unit. The solider’s of that unit were from Alamo de Paras, Coahuila. Perhaps they were homesick because they renamed the mission the Alamo, which means cottonwood in Spanish.
During the decade long effort to secure Mexican independence from the Spanish, the fort was held by both revolutionaries and also the Spanish as it changed hands during the fortunes of war. By 1835, things were getting unsettled again in the region of Mexico known as Tejas. The Mexican government had encouraged settlement by immigrants. They got good deals on land and pretty much had a
semblance of freedom, provided that they follow the Mexican laws. Most of the immigrants were ex-patrioted Americans. Some were fleeing the long arm of Uncle Sam’s law. Nevertheless, many of the Americans, being a rather independent lot, wanted to separate from Mexico. One item that was in the craw of some of the immigrants was that Mexican law forbade slavery and many of the Americans were slave holders. The Texicans organized volunteers to take up arms against the government and the Mexicans decided it was time to put down the unrest in their territory. The Texicans thought it was time to get more organized and on March 2, 1836 declared independence from Mexico.
Now, the unruly Texicans had gone to battle with the Mexican forces in San Antonio de Bexar in December 1835 and after house to house fighting, forced the Mexicn forces to surrender. The Texicans took up residence in the Alamo which was well fortified and supplied with munitions. Mexican President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna thought San Antonio was a good place to go after the upstarts and on February 23, 1836 he brought thousands of troops to the Alamo. Inside the Alamo were about 150 Texicans led by William Barrett Travis. He was in charge of the small professional Texas soldier but Jim Bowie led a group of volunteers as did David Crockett and his men from Tennessee. The vastly outnumbered Texicans held out for 13 days. They refused to surrender. Travis wrote a letter that is famous in Texas folklore in which he begs for reinforcements and says that he had answered the Mexican
call for surrender with a cannon shot. Only 32 volunteers showed up halfway through the seige to bring the total to 189. No reinforcements came. On this date in 1836, the Alamo fell. All of the men were killed, though modern historians uncovered a letter from a Mexican soldier that claims that a few men were taken prisoner and taken back to Mexico City where they were tortured and killed. One of those men was reported to be Davy Crockett. I do not believe that this account has been totally accepted by historians though I also do not think it has been totally dismissed either. But, it does fly in the face of John Wayne’s version of the Alamo in which Crockett is one of the last defenders to die and dies taking out several men and blowing up the munitions, in true John Wayne hero manner.
As with many things in history, particularly items as heroic as the Alamo, myths have become fact. Let’s explore a few with the Alamo. It was often been portrayed in film that the Alamo defenders died while “buying time” for Sam Houston to train his army. Truth is that Houston on January 28 was given a furlough to take care of some business. He went and negotiated a treaty
with the Cherokee Nation and then served as a delegate to the constitutional convention until March 6. It was at that time that he was reconfirmed as commander in chief of the Texican volunteer and regular army. Travis is often portrayed as a pompous man who was disliked by many of the volunteers, particularly Jim Bowie. Travis was really a very likeable and outgoing fellow. The story of the dislike comes from the volunteers refusing to take his orders, but that was more out of loyalty and respect for their own commanders, such as Crockett and Bowie. There were some survivors of the Alamo but they were all women, children and slaves. The weather was not part of one of the coldest winters in Texas history. That rumor came about because the Mexican Army ran through a brutal and freakish snowstorm on their march to the Alamo. A couple of cold fronts came through during the seige but they only took the temperatures into the 30’s. Two days after the seige was over the weather was described as “fine weather.” And finally, the 400 men of James Fannin at Goliad, just 100 miles away, could not have come to the rescue because they had another Mexican Army in the area that they had to deal with.
Nevertheless, the Texicans ended up getting the last laugh. In late April, with shouts of “Remember the Alamo,” the Texican Army under the command of General Sam Houston, routed the Mexican Army near present day Houston in 26 minutes. They forced Santa Anna to surrender, not only his army but also sign documents that ceded Texas to the revolutionaries. It is said that Santa Anna was distracted in his tent by the beautiful woman spy, the Yellow Rose of Texas. About 10 years later, Santa Anna was at war again over Texas with the United States over the border of Texas…seems Santa Anna believed his definition of Texas only went to the Nueces River, whereas the Americans and Texans determined that the documents that Santa Anna signed at San Jacinto took Texas to the Rio Grande. Santa Anna lost that war too and ended up losing most of the Southwestern United States in the process.
The Alamo is a shrine today in Texas and millions of people from around the world come to San Antonio each year to visit. One visitor was Ozzy Osbourne who in 1984 was arrested. At 11 am he was spotted drunk, pulling up a dress he was wearing, urinating on the Alamo. He found out the hard way what the Alamo means to Texans. He was banned from the city.
No matter what….this is a great and historic day for Texans around the world!
Weather Bottom Line: Forecast is generally on track. We made it all the way to 68 on Thursday, which is 37 degrees warmer than it was on Monday and this in spite of a bunch of clouds. Similar day on Friday as Thursday as we push toward 70, lots of clouds but perhaps a few showers. Saturday in the mid to upper 70’s. Chance of T’storms and rain develop late and carry over into Sunday. SPC has the threat for severe weather to our west. Timing of the wave of energy running along the front to our north is no good, though a few storms still could be in the area. We cool a bit for the first part of the week. By mid to late week, a cold front finally comes through but right now, the data does not support a huge push of cold air and the models that do suggest cold air pushing through very far to the south don’t keep it around for long…and again…its not that cold…just perhaps slightly below seasonal norms. Rain chances will be back with the approach and passage of the front. Here’s the severe threat discussion for Saturday and Sunday.
DAY 2 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1258 AM CST FRI MAR 06 2009
VALID 071200Z – 081200Z
…THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS ACROSS THE SOUTH CENTRAL PLAINS
AND LOWER/MIDDLE MO VALLEY…
AN INITIALLY NEUTRAL TILT UPPER TROUGH IS EXPECTED TO STEADILY
TRANSITION EAST-NORTHEASTWARD FROM THE EASTERN GREAT BASIN/FOUR
CORNERS REGION EARLY SATURDAY…TO THE CENTRAL PLAINS/MIDDLE MO
VALLEY BY EARLY SUNDAY WHERE IT IS EXPECTED TO TAKE ON MORE OF A
NEGATIVE TILT. AT THE SURFACE…FRONTAL BOUNDARY IS EXPECTED TO
STALL/BECOME ESTABLISHED IN A GENERAL WEST-EAST CORRIDOR FROM KS TO
THE MIDWEST/OHIO VALLEY. LEE-SIDE SURFACE CYCLOGENESIS WILL OCCUR
DURING THE DAY ACROSS THE HIGH PLAINS…WITH A GRADUALLY DEEPENING
SURFACE LOW AND SHARPENING COLD FRONT/DRYLINE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP
EASTWARD ACROSS PORTIONS OF KS/OK/TX SATURDAY AFTERNOON/NIGHT. IN
THE PREFRONTAL WARM SECTOR…BOUNDARY LAYER MOISTURE WILL REMAIN
MODEST…WITH RETURN LIMITED IN THE WAKE OF LAST WEEKENDS DEEP
FRONTAL PENETRATION INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO.
…MIDDLE MO VALLEY TO IL/INDIANA SATURDAY MORNING…
SIMILAR TO THE LATE DAY 1 SCENARIO…SCATTERED ELEVATED
STRONG/POTENTIALLY SEVERE TSTMS WILL BE ONGOING AT THE BEGINNING OF
THE PERIOD SATURDAY MORNING VIA A 50 KT LOW LEVEL JET AIDED WARM
ADVECTION/ELEVATED MOISTURE TRANSPORT REGIME. AMIDST AMPLE SHEAR
THROUGH THE CLOUD BEARING LAYER FOR UPDRAFT ROTATION…A STEEP LAPSE
RATE ENVIRONMENT AND ELEVATED MUCAPE TO 500-1000 J/KG WILL SUPPORT A
CONTINUED HAIL RISK DURING THE MORNING ACROSS NORTHERN MO/SOUTHERN
IA INTO IL/INDIANA. THESE TSTMS AND ANY ASSOCIATED HAIL THREAT
SHOULD GRADUALLY SHIFT EAST-NORTHEASTWARD DURING THE MORNING ALONG
THE SURFACE-850 MB BAROCLINIC ZONE…WITH THE HAIL THREAT EXPECTED
TO WANE THROUGH MID/LATE MORNING AS THE LOW LEVEL JET WEAKENS/VEERS
…KS/OK/MO SATURDAY AFTERNOON/EVENING…
AHEAD OF THE UPPER TROUGH CROSSING THE ROCKIES…KS/OK SHOULD REMAIN
CAPPED MUCH OF THE DAY. HOWEVER…SUFFICIENT HEATING AND ONSET OF
LARGE SCALE HEIGHT FALLS COULD BE SUFFICIENT FOR ISOLATED SURFACE
BASED TSTM DEVELOPMENT AS EARLY AS MID AFTERNOON…BUT IT MUCH MORE
LIKELY SATURDAY EVENING ACROSS CENTRAL/EASTERN KS INTO OK
ALONG/AHEAD OF THE ADVANCING SURFACE LOW AND COLD FRONT/DRYLINE.
WARM SECTOR SURFACE DEWPOINTS WILL LIKELY TO BE LIMITED TO THE
LOWER/MIDDLE 50S F ACROSS THE SOUTH CENTRAL PLAINS/MO VALLEY
SATURDAY AFTERNOON/EVENING…AND THIS WILL BE THE PRIMARY LIMITING
FACTOR FOR A MORE APPRECIABLE SEVERE RISK. REGARDLESS…INCREASINGLY
STEEP MID LEVEL LAPSE RATES ATOP MODEST BOUNDARY LAYER MOISTURE
SHOULD RESULT IN 500-800 J/KG OF MLCAPE BY LATE AFTERNOON. BENEATH
50+ KT OF SOUTHWESTERLY MID LEVEL FLOW…STRONG SHEAR/AMPLE VEERING
WOULD SUPPORT A RISK OF WELL-ORGANIZED TSTMS INCLUDING
SUPERCELLS…WITH THE PRIMARY RISK OF SEVERE HAIL. IN SPITE OF A
RATHER DYNAMIC SCENARIO WITH STRONG SHEAR…THE LIMITED MOISTURE
SHOULD FAVOR A QUICKLY DECOUPLING BOUNDARY LAYER WITHIN AN HOUR OR
TWO OF SUNSET…WITH A NOCTURNAL TENDENCY FOR TSTMS TO BE BASED
ABOVE A SHALLOW STABLE LAYER.
…SOUTHERN OK/NORTH TX SATURDAY AFTERNOON/EVENING…
AS THE SOUTHERN PERIPHERY OF THE APPROACHING UPPER TROUGH/LARGE
SCALE HEIGHT FALLS…TSTM POTENTIAL/COVERAGE AND ANY ASSOCIATED
SEVERE THREAT BECOMES MUCH MORE CONDITIONAL WITH SOUTHWARD EXTENT
ACROSS SOUTHERN OK INTO PORTIONS OF NORTH CENTRAL TX. IF/WHERE TSTMS
DEVELOP SATURDAY LATE AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING…MODEST INSTABILITY
AND FAVORABLE SHEAR PROFILES WOULD CONDITIONALLY SUPPORT A RISK OF
SUPERCELLS WITH MAINLY A SEVERE HAIL RISK.
…NORTHEAST KS/SOUTHEAST NEB TO IA/NORTHERN MO/IL LATE…
AS THE UPPER TROUGH REACHES THE CENTRAL PLAINS…AN INTENSIFYING LOW
LEVEL JET /50-55 KT/ AND ASSOCIATED WARM ADVECTION REGIME SHOULD
AGAIN INCREASE HAIL POTENTIAL ACROSS THE MIDDLE MO VALLEY/MIDWEST
SATURDAY NIGHT INTO EARLY SUNDAY.