On this Date in History: The last case of wild or naturally occuring polio in the United States was reported in 1979. For the most part, polio is considered to be eradicated from the Western Hemisphere and the effort continues to terminate the disease world wide. When I was a kid, polio was just another of a handful of conditions that American kids were immunized against. But, earlier in the 20th century, the very mention of polio brought fear to parents and children alike. Seventy-five percent of those affected were children, but one prominent American got the disease as an adult and his fight against the disease and his perserverance left a legacy that arguably may eclipse all of his great accomplishments.
In 1921, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was still a relatively young man at age 39. By that time, he had a wife and family, had served in the New York State Senate, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and as Vice-Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 1920 election with Democratic Presidential Candidate James M. Cox which was won by Republican Warren G. Harding. After suffering his defeat at the polls, Roosevelt faced a new opponent; he contracted polio. At first it was thought he had a bad cold. Then the diagnosis was a blood clot in his spine. But when his fever skyrocketed and his legs became paralyzed, doctors faced the reality that the young man with a promising political career had polio. A lesser man may have been depressed or considered it a setback at the least. But, the ambitious Roosevelt refused to accept defeat.
There was no cure for polio and it was often fatal. But, FDR decided to rehablitiate himself. He exercised his upper body to such an extent that he once bragged that his legs weren’t much “but look at those shoulders!” His upper body became so developed that many people were unaware of the toll that the disease had taken on his legs. He wore bulky leg braces and needed help from crutches to get around. But, if something happened to the braces or crutches, he felt helpless. The only real freedom he felt was when he swam. He felt especially revitalized by the soothing mineral water of Warm Springs, Georgia. Now, FDR was from a wealthy family and in 1926, he donated a large portion of his personal wealth to establish a foundation at Warm Springs so that others who suffered from the crippling disease to have the same opportunities that he had.
Of course, FDR did not let polio get in his way as he went on to lead the United States through the Great Depression and World War II having been elected to four consecutive term as President of the United States. But, the plans he had laid out for Warm Springs put the facility in debt, despite his huge contribution. Fund raisers were held but the deficit was never erased. Entertainer Eddie Cantor came up with the idea of asking everyone in the country to send a dime to the president at the White House for polio research. The year was 1937 and the depression held the nation in its grips but Cantor thought that the catchy name he came up with, the March of Dimes, might inspire people to make a small sacrifice.
Americans love to respond to the needs of others and the White House was overwhelmed with as many as 150,000 letters a day containing dimes. That first campaign was so successful that funds not only went to help pay for treatment of polio victims, but also to fund research that might lead to the eradication of the disease. Dr. Jonas Salk developed the vaccine for polio in 1955 and in 24 years, polio was absent from all of the Americas. Franklin Roosevelt did not live to see the victory but he had become so related to the March of Dimes, after his death in 1945 Congress voted to honor Roosevelt with the lasting memorial of his depiction on the dime. On this date in 1946, the first Roosevelt dimes were issued by the US mint and they have been issued ever since. January 30 is also the anniversary birth of the 32nd President of the United States and serves as the annual kick-off of March of Dimes fundraising efforts. By the time Dr. Salk discovered the vaccine, millions of Roosevelt dimes had been contributed to the March of Dimes and it was on April 12, 1955, the tenth anniversary of FDR’s death, that Salk announced his discovery.
There is now a relatively little known Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington DC and that certainly will last as long as the city is there. And the history book is filled with the actions and accomplishments of FDR in his leadership of the United States. He is a giant in the story of America in the 20th century. But, perhaps his greatest and grandest legacy was his determination and courage to face down a personal enemy that had affected and taken so many lives. Others might have led us through the Great Depression or World War II. But, I think it would be hard to find another man who could have led the fight and eventual eradication of a such a terrible disease that adversely affected all of humanity. I believe, that if you look at the face on that small, thin dime, you will see a legacy that touched and served more people than any executive order or political decision ever could. It is a legacy that is little remembered but one that,on its own, should elevate Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the highest level of American honor.
Weather Bottom Line: If TV weather was honest, this would be the exchange you would hear:
Anchor: Are we going to get snow?
Anchor: How Much?
Weather: I don’t know.
When I moved here a dozen years ago, I knew just the basics about snow and snow forecasting. I didn’t have much pragmatic experience. See, in the real south, you don’t get snow much. When I came here, I thought it was the first time I had lived in the North since I was a little kid in Connecticut. Then people started telling me that this was the South, which I never figured out considering we’re 300 miles from Chicago, get down to zero or lower at least once every year and average about 16 inches of snow every year. Anyway, one thing I was happy to learn quickly was that snow forecasting is extremely difficult. The variables involved between a 1 inch snowfall and a 6 inch snowfall is pretty small and when you take into account those variables can be quite different over the entire viewing area, it is extremely difficult. If we said it would rain about a half inch and we get a quarter inch, everyone would say the forecast was right. But, in snow terms, the moisture that would produce a half inch of rain would produce 5 inches of snow and a quarter inch of rain only 2.5 inches. So, if we called for a 5 inches of snow and you only got 2.5 inches, you’d say the forecast was wrong.
In this case, we are on the edge of dry air. All day on Friday, the radar has claimed it was snowing. But the air was so dry, with surface dewpoints in the low to mid single digits, that any precipitation that was falling evaporated. By days end, the dewpoints were still about 8 in Louisville. But, down in Bowling Green, the dewpoint was 19 with an air temperature of 25 and it was snowing. The moist air is trying to push north and the big question is how far it gets and when it gets there. The result will be a very tight gradient of snow totals with a differnce of say less than an inch to the northern extent and maybe as much as 10 inches down toward the Kentucky/Tennesse border. So, that would be about equivalent to losing an inch every 10 miles you travel north.
No one can forecast with exact certainty where the line of the northern extent will be.
Forecasting is really best learned through the old apprentice style of training. You can’t learn it in a book. Just about everything I know about snow forecasting I learned from Jay Cardosi and my own observations. I was fortunate to be able to work with an Ace like Jay as learned all he could offer and what he had learned from some expert forecasters and his own personal education. Now, I saw Jay do as good a job as possible in trying to responsibily explain the forecast with this particular storm. I mean, lets face it, you can’t go on tv and say “It’s gonna snow, but we can’t say with certainty how much you will get in your backyard.” But, what he did was show a graded map with 5-9 inchs of snow from around E-town south and 2-5 inches in the Louisville Metro and zero snow for up near Seymour. He went even further to illustrate the difficulty with this situation though when he pointed out that he would not be surprised if we had about 2 inches near downtown Louisville at the Ohio River but five inches down at the Jefferson/Bullitt county line. He didn’t emphatically say that would occur, but it is not out of the question for that scenario to unfold.
I’ll use some modeling data to support that notion. The 18Z NAM forecast for Standiford Field called for just under 4 inches of snow. That same 18Z NAM model showed just over 3 inches of snow for Bowman Field. What is that…about 4 miles and almost an inch difference? Then, on top of that, the model went and threw out an additional quarter inch of snow throughout the day on Sunday for Bowman and nothing at Standiford. I would discount any appreciable snow on Sunday, though there could be some flurries or light snow showers. Now, this data stands in sharp contrast with the previous NAM run at 00Z (18 hours before) that said about 1/10th of an inch. The GFS at 00Z Friday had zero snow for Standiford and by 18Z it had gone back to what it had been saying before, which was about 2.5 inches. Back and forth the models have gone over the past 36 hours. Snow, no snow. Snow, but more here than there. Now, if you look at the 00Z Sat NAM snow total map above, it looks like to me it has gotten even more bullish on snow totals with the southern half of Jefferson County at about 5-6 inches and the northern half 3-4 inches but it never fully saturates the air at all levels over Louisville. 24 hours before it said less than an inch. Nor does the 00Z GFS ever saturate the entire column over Louisville. Go figure.
Observing the satellite blob of snow to the west, it would appear that we will catch a good chunk of it. The question is just how quickly the atmosphere moistens up. The midday models all claimed it would happen shortly after midnight. But, as of 9pm EST, in Louisville the dewpoint was still just 8 and Fort Knox had only inched up to 11. I think we’ll have to get to the mid to upper teens on the dewpoint to get snow. So, I leave you with this. Some of us will get next to nothing. Some of us may push 6 inches. If I had to guess I’d say I will get 2 inches or so at my house, depending on if there is an errant heavy snow burst or not. (I hope I’m wrong!) But, that’s just a guess and its the best I can do as, when its all said and done, it will do what its going to do where its going to do it regardless of what I say, the computers say or anyone on tv said. All we can do is our best and on TV those guys have it really tough because they are required to go beyond the limits of human ability. Someone will not be satisfied one way or another, but they should be. Everyone from the boys at the NWS to the folks on TV have done about the best we can do. I say let it snow. My wishcast would be for a big pile of snow…but, I”ll probably have to wait till next time