Archive for October, 2006

Definitely a trick and not a treat
October 31, 2006

Wow! Cold tonight for any trick or treaters. Did you know that there have only been about 13 Halloweens with cold temperatures like today. Also, 44 of them we had rain! Records date back to 1891.

Make sure you dress warm under the costumes. Temperatures will hold into the mid 40s early on before dropping into the upper 30s later this evening.



Halloween Weather History
October 31, 2006

While we are certainly dealing with colder weather today, this Halloween probably won’t go into the record books for being anything other than chilly. The same cannot be said for some other Halloweens in which the weather played a bigger part.

In 1941 and 1991 there was a trace of snow in Oklahoma City for the trick-or-treaters to deal with. In 1993, there was no snow, but it was bone chillingly cold with temerpatures on Halloween morning only in the teens!

Perhaps the scariest weather came in 1984 when tornadoes skipped across parts of northwest Oklahoma. According to our friends at the National Weather Service in Norman, one tornado did $30,000 damage to a gas power plant in Woodward county. The storm then moved into Major county and damaged or destroyed 10-15 outbuildings, two houses, six barns, and a few cars and trucks.

In my years here, I remember trick-or-treating (with my kids of course)in cold and damp weather, and also in weather so balmy I was getting eaten alive by mosquitos.
There will be no mosquitos bothering you tonight, I can promise you that. Temperatures during the early to mid evening will be in the upper 40s with a chilly north breeze, so wind chill values could end up in the upper 30s, so bundle up.


A Swan in the Sky?
October 31, 2006

I got an email from Prague this morning:

Good morning and Happy Halloween. I live 13 miles ENE of Prague. This morning at 0500 I went out to let the horses out of the paddock, into the pasture as usual. I looked up and saw a rather large falling “Star/Meteor/Comet”. It was going from West to East. The reason I say Meteor or Comet is because it was so much larger than anything I’d seen before. Do you know what it might have been?

I do not know much about comets or meteors, but I have heard that there is a comet that is currently visibly in the sky, and this is what might have been seen this morning in Prague.

I was able to find out more by searching the web:

What had been a modest comet seen only with binoculars or telescopes flared up last week to become visible to the naked eye.

Comet SWAN, as it is called, is in the western sky after sunset from the Northern Hemisphere. It remains faint, likely not easy to find under bright city lights but pretty simple to spot from the countryside.

The comet, also catalogued as C/2006 M4, is about halfway up in the sky in the direction of the constellation Corona Borealis.

As with most comets, this one looks like a fuzzy star. It has an interesting green tint, however, indicating it has a lot of the poisonous gas cyanogen and diatomic carbon, astronomers say.

Comets, the stuff of legend and myth, are frozen leftovers of the solar system’s formation. Most orbit the Sun out beyond Neptune, but a few wander through the inner solar system now and then. As a comet gets closer to the Sun, solar radiation boils the frozen gases, along with dust, off the comet’s surface. Sunlight reflects off this material, creating a head, or coma. Some comets never get very bright. Others brighten dramatically. Some even come unglued as they round the Sun.

Some comets, like SWAN, also sport a tail or two. Such detail is best seen with binoculars or a small telescope.

Comet SWAN was discovered last year. It is named for the Solar Wind ANisotropies instrument aboard the SOHO spacecraft, whose images revealed the icy wanderer.

It made its closest approach to Earth last Thursday. Eventually it will return to the distant reaches of the solar system. Nobody knows how long the comet will grace the night sky.

A Halloween Chill
October 31, 2006

A cold front that will spread a Halloween chill across Oklahoma is making its way into the northwest this evening. It will barrell across the rest of the state overnight, ushering in strong northerly winds and colder weather. Winds could gust over 40 mph in western Oklahoma, and some rain will fall in southern and eastern Oklahoma, but the rest of the state will be dry.

Halloween will be a windy, chilly day, but there will be plenty of sunshine. Highs will be in the 50s with north winds of 15 to 30 mph. The winds will decrease by trick-or-treat time in the early evening with temperatures falling into the upper 40s.


The Perfect Storm
October 30, 2006

15 years ago New England was battered by a nor’easter known as “The Perfect Storm”. Most people have heard of the movie, or the book that was written about the sinking of the swordfishing boat “The Andrea Gail”. The Andrea Gail was based out of Gloucester, MA… the area where I grew up. I actually was raised in Rockport, a small town just down the road from Gloucester…. BIG difference growing up there, but now to me they are both quaint New England towns. Gloucester is a fishing village, Rockport a tourist town.

The storm was a combination of a hurricane and a cold upper storm system. The storm formed over the Atlantic and moved backward toward the southwest while intensifying. The slow movement of the storm caused a long fetch of strong northeast winds from Nova Scotia to the New England Coast. This long fetch over the course of several days caused enourmous waves to crash into the coast. Since the storm formed out to sea, and moved back into the land it caught many people off guard. Most nor’easters move up the coast with rain or snow, along with the strong winds and high surf. You can see them coming. This one should have been safely out to sea… but then the winds started to increase, and the large waves arrived… before the rain.

I was at college at this time… a senior at Penn State. Of course the storm was the talk of the meteorology building, and was everyone’s topic of conversation. The one thing I really remember was seeing observations from Thacher’s Island, off the coast of Rockport. Thacher’s Island is not an official weather reporting station, but it is run by the Coast Guard, and during this one historic storm, they were reporting wind and sea observations. I have never seen a weather report from the island since.

My college girlfriend (now my wife, Susan), was in school in New Hampshire. Her parents owned an oceanfront home in Gloucester which just barely survived the storm. The waves destroyed the road leading to their house. The ocean also reclaimed their front yard and driveway. Susan went back home to visit her family and tour the damage, but I was stuck in Pennsylvania.

At the time, this storm was known as the Halloween storm, but with the book and movie, has since become known as “The Perfect Storm”. The loss of life aboard the Andrea Gail makes this a tragic storm, but it is something that Gloucester has dealt with before. The Fisherman’s Memorial honors “They that go down to the sea in ships”, and the monument mentions some of my ancestors. Yesterday the Weather Channel was broadcasting from Gloucester, along the Back Shore, and from The Crow’s Nest, a bar made famous by the book and movie. Before 1991, I never went into the Crow’s Nest. It was a tough, fisherman’s bar with a bad reputation. Since the movie, while fishermen still frequent the place, it is also somewhat of a tourist destination.

Why Daylight Saving Time?
October 28, 2006

That’s right, tonight is the night to “fall back” an hour on those clocks when you go to bed. Why do we do it? Well, good question and on Sunday night I’m going to talk a lot more about it around 10:45pm. Tune in then!!

What’s that blue stuff on the radar?
October 27, 2006

You may occasionally see the color blue painted on the map when we show Advantage Doppler HD. Well, that can be a couple of things. In the winter, it could mean light snow or freezing drizzle. With sunny skies, it could mean dust, bugs, birds, and planes. We have the ability to toggle off these sensitive features, but that would take away from part of what makes Advantage so unique. We recently performed another radar software and hardware upgrade to improve our ground clutter rejection of things we don’t want to see, like interference from other radars or other electromagnetic waves. In the process, we improved upon adding back the radar’s sensitive side. This means we can better see those very small scale things floating around in the atmosphere, but also means we can see the cold fronts, drylines, and any other boundaries that much better. We are pleased with where we are with Advantage Doppler HD. We have gained increase sensitivity, a better ability to remove targets we don’t want, and boosted our power to the appropriate level documented with research on C-band radars. All of this really cool geeky stuff is just icing on the cake in keeping you safe during severe weather.

Still on the Road to Mizzou
October 27, 2006

Yes, I found the rain, just like Steve said.

It’s been raining steadily since just east of Vinita. Not too bad, just steady rain.

The trees are still colorful, though.

I’m seeing quite a few OU flags on the road.

Looking for a restroom near Mt Vernon,


On the Road to Mizzou
October 27, 2006

Greetings from the road.

I am assigned to cover the OU/Missouri football game this Saturday, so I’m enroute up the Turner Turnpike this morning. It looks like the Fall Colors are about at their peak this weekend. If you haven’t gotten out to see them, you ought to.

Oklahoma doesn’t have the blazing reds and oranges of a New England autumn, but the yellows and golds make the drive more pleasant. Some of the brush below the trees turns a red color, so the contrast is quite pretty.

I thought the color would be faded by Tulsa, but it really isn’t. If anything, there is more color in spots up here. More reds.

The Turner Turnpike was great: no construction. They seem to be making up for it on the Will Rogers Turnpike, however. They had about 10 miles of resurfacing and a couple of other places where the traffic was down to one lane each direction. And I’m only halfway through on this one.

I’m stopped at Big Cabin for gas. $2.16 per gallon. I guess they saw me coming.

No rain yet, but Steve tells me that will likely change when I get into the Sho-Me State. Maybe that will clean off he windshield a little. We’ll see.

From the gas pump at the truck stop in Big Cabin, Oklahoma.


butterflies anyone?
October 27, 2006

You may have noticed some recent butterfly activity this month. The guys over at the Oklahoma Mesonet have the inside scoop below.

For Royalty: Look Down Last Week, Look Up This Week

You may have noticed the increasing presence of Monarch butterflies
over the past few days. This is no accident, for two reasons:

1. Early October is the peak autumn migration time through this
part of the country. Monarchs are programmed to get out of colder
climes and into Mexico and California during the weeks surrounding
the autumnal equinox.

2. These kings and queens of the butterfly world are also programmed
to use wind currents to their advantage. And that’s where we get

During southerly wind regimes (like the one that brought us warm
weather last week), they abandon long-distance travel and flutter
about near the ground, collecting vital fuel from nature’s dwindling
food supplies. Think about it: on what kind of fall day do you picture
butterflies in the garden? Pleasant-to-warm days, right? These are
usually associated with southerly winds.

With this week’s coming cold air invasion, winds will shift to a
northerly flow. The monarchs will soar upon the currents, using very
little precious energy while the atmosphere does all the work.

So, after the cold front passes, look upward instead of downward.
Chances are that you’ll eventually see at least one squadron of the
Lepidopteran Royal Air Force at cruising altitude.