Friday, February 29, 2008

"Fried Fridays: Lookin' good in stripes"

Fried Fridays posts, as a rule, attempt to deal with some wacky, zany, unbelievable news story I have recently run across...sometimes I'll even choose someone who has been especially mean-spirited, or insanely stupid...there's usually a lot of fish in the barrel at which to shoot.

But it's been a busy week for this ol' weatherman, for myriad reasons, and blog inspirations have not been pouring out of my mental pot as they usually do. And in mulling over candidates for today's showcasing, nothing struck me as a clear-cut winner. But I am passing on what is more of a news story that just came out Thursday from the Pew Center on the States...and I'm not sure what to think about all of the implications just yet.

Before I get to the story, it's wise to remember a little something...I've said it before, and I'll say it again - one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain, that is full of more truth than you might realize:

"There are three types of lies in this world: lies, $%#* lies, and statistics."

And so the international headline tells the incredible story: 1 in every 100 Americans is incarcerated in some manner, be it jail, prison, etc.

That's sobering. We assume that number to be credible...data gathered on a state-by-state basis at the start of 2008 tallied well over 2.3 million people whose main fashion style now involves stripes or hunter orange jumpsuits. Not only sobering, it's mind-boggling.


You can talk truthfully about all the wonderful things about this country, it's freedoms, and it's standard of living, opportunities, etc...but you can talk just as truthfully about all the things that are increasingly out of whack, which includes our penal systems. But it's not just the penal system, of course...you've got a societal decay that breeds more criminals as more parents fail to be parents, an education system that is pointing the hound dog in the wrong direction, and a government that seems to only cut back funding year after year after year for useful and important social programs, especially those focused on children...dare I open that Pandora's Box for further exploration, government funding and spending.

Do you take from this that we are a nation of thugs? That would certainly be an inaccurate assessment. In that number of inmates are plenty in for very minor violations that could be argued not jail-worthy. One factoid presented by the Governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, was that KY inmate populations rose by 12% last year, the highest rate in the country. In the past 30 years, the KY crime rate has risen but 3%, while the inmate population has risen 600%.

As local prison systems struggle with underfunding, they have to make tough decisions on how to cut costs and inmate populations (I didn't even broach the severe over-crowding problem that has resulted in most jails). Invariably some arrestees are released back to the streets that shouldn't be.

All I know is you don't successfully fight a fire by putting water on the flame shafts...you have to douse the base where the flames emanate if you want to corral the conflagration. So I'm still letting my thoughts sink in on this one...it's a multi-headed snake, for sure. I can't help but feel the ultimate solution, though, lies far outside the confines of those concrete walls surrounded in razor-wire.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

(click pic to enlarge)

Took this picturesque view about 30 miles west of Asheville last weekend...some of you may know of Lake Junaluska (Methodist retreat), which is the lake in the foreground. Today, it's pretty white and snowy, with 50 mph wind gusts as many locations above 3,000 feet in elevation stand to rack up 6-10" of snow.

Yesterday's rains fell hard when they did, but the lateral storm speed was such that most major cities picked up 0.4" to 0.6" of rain - since beggars can't be choosers, we'll take it. What flurries and snow showers make it out of the mountains down into the NW portion of the Triad will be only trace amounts - just Nature's way of saying the Winter Opera's fat lady hasn't finished singing, yet.

Nice looking weekend ahead, though - sunny and seasonable, hedging to slightly above the average high/low of 55/33 in the Triad. Good skiing conditions up in them thar' hills, too, for slope-savvy individuals.

AVOID THIS IF YOU DO GO SKIING....



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Could YOU be?"

If you can start the day without caffeine,


If you can get going without pep pills,


If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,



If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,


If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,


If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,


If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,


If you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him or her,



If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,



If you can conquer tension without medical help,


If you can relax without liquor,


If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,




Then most likely...








You are the family dog.

Woof, y'all!

Monday, February 25, 2008

"Heal-All" knows all...

Move over, Puxatawny Phil. Spring is not forecast by a human-contrived publicity stunt. But several things let you know the growing season is slowly gearing up for the rites of spring.

No, the flocks of robins aren't back just yet...but as I put the trash out on the curb late yesterday, I realized I could almost argue cutting my grass. Well, 'grass' is putting it loosely...maybe 'yard' is more like it as I have all kinds of 'yardy' things growing it, of which grass is not overwhelmingly dominant. There is one plant that is off to the races though....

Prunella. Heal-All. Self-Heal.
Prunella vulagaris, et al.

It's a feisty-growing ground cover, Prunella, and it's little purple blossoms and greenery are welcome colors on these oft gray winter days. Medicinally this genus has been used as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and it's also been touted as an immune system stimulant. Good reasons it has common names like those listed above, huh?

The other interesting little tidbit is that Prunella is a member of the mint family, which has one very distinguishing characteristic easily tested: the stems are square, not round.

No doubt you have some in your yard or in a nearby lot. Roll the stem between your fingers and you'll feel it right away. Now, that's not to say these leaves go great in tea - far from it. They're a tad on the bitter side, but are safe to put in salads if you want a little different taste...and maybe pick up some salubrious benefits on the side.

*sigh*

No, I'm not delusional. It's February. We still have excellent opportunities for wintry slaps upside the head. But it sure was comforting if but for a second to stop, silently observe, and thank those plants for their little gifts.


Friday, February 22, 2008

"Fried Fridays: Sex and Religion"

Figured that would get your attention...

On February 2, it got Michelle Campbell's attention.

10 minutes before tip-off at a boy's basketball game at St. Mary's Academy, Campbell, a retired police officer now in her second year as a referee, was told she could not referee for the game.

And it all had to do with nothing more than sex. Her sex.


Her co-referee for the game, Darin Putthoff, clearly recalls the conversation the two had with St. Mary's Athletic Director Keith Perry right before game time. Perry said "We have a problem: We don't allow women to referee here (sic) - it's something to do with women having authority over men."

Campbell did nothing more than report it to the state Kansas State High School Activities Association. Not to get them in trouble, mind you... she just wanted to make a note of the school's stance should the issue arise in the future for other women referees. Her seasoned years in law enforcement gave her plenty of thick skin to not take the matter personally, and she never pulled out a soapbox on which to stand. News outlets did that with aplomb.

"EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! Female not allowed to referee Catholic boy's basketball game because women can't have authority over men!"

Naturally, the word spread faster than ants at a July 4th picnic, and St. Mary's Academy officials were quickly fighting raging PR wildfires. Rev. Vicente Griego, the Academy's headmaster released a written statement Tuesday which read in part:

"This alleged reason was neither stated nor is it held by any officials of St. Mary's Academy./The formation of adolescent boys is best accomplished by male role models, as the formation of girls is best accomplished by women. Hence in the boys' athletic competitions, it is important that the various role models (coaches and referees) be men."

Talk about semantics...

I give Campbell the nod for her perspective in a recent AP phone interview:

"I kind of want the focus to go back to the kids, why we are out there and why we do this officiating. To me, it's about the kids who are in the sport of basketball and being a good role model for them."

NOW who's being a good role model for whom?...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Say it ain't so...."

Sorry for the posting delay...I felt a little like Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when he was assessing the latest U.S. economic indicators and realized there are more troubling signs than earlier suggested. As I got up early and started to pull weather data, I probably had that deer-in-the-headlight kind of look myself.


Well, truth be told, working a job where you get up at 1am gives you that look naturally, but I digress...

IF the models, of which the majority were close in agreement, come to pass, we'll have one massive ice storm on our hands Thursday night into Friday morning in the Triad. The ETA MOS numbers when I awoke were a low of 29 and a high of 31...with close to 1" of liquid equivalent. Not all would be ice, of course, but it would do a whammy on the region. Admittedly, that is one of myriad models, but more than half are suggestive of aggressive ice accumulation in the northern Piedmont and Foothills.

Sleet and freezing rain seem to outweigh snow simply because of the shallow depth (expected) of the cold surface layer, with warmer air aloft. High pressure in New Jersey will feed colder, drier surface air in from the east-northeast all day Thursday. Onset of precipitation will most likely be well after dark; while snow may predominate at first, a mix of sleet and freezing rain seem to ultimately rule the roost through most of Friday morning. Once the thermometer gets above freezing after lunch, it never returns to the 32-mark for several days...so all eyes will be assessing the time up until then.

Friday looks to be a fun-filled day for us 3-market meteorologists as that is our weakest staffing day with no mid-day support coming in. Heading out to get the granola bars in a few....! Wheeeeeedoggies!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Spammers-Be-Gone...I wish...

I'm sure this post has me preaching to the choir as some of you readers are experts in computers...but for those that maybe aren't that comfortable or knowledgeable about these things (mom!), I thought I'd share a slightly different type of email that came in.

The world of spam and cyber-thieves and myriad viruses makes us all sick. Even with security programs, filters, and firewalls, this garbage gets through as new ways are found to circumvent 'blocks'.

If I didn't know better, I'm a billionaire with all the European lotteries I've won. There sure are a lot of cancer-suffering Christian women in Africa who want to give me part of their fortunes. I had no idea I was specially chosen to receive some unrelated person's death benefit because they had no other family and I seemed trustworthy (they didn't know I forecast weather...!!!). And I guess I'd forgotten about all these banking accounts I had across the country, all of which needed security code updating or simple questionnaires filled out....

Deep six 'em. Early when all this started years ago, I'd get mad and send a personal email back chastising them and saying I'd BCC'd the FBI - that's stupid because now I've verified an active email address they can try and screw with. Toss them all, folks, and never look back.

However, the charlatans do try and get fancier with a more 'harmless' look...and I bring to your attention such an email that came in yesterday, and show you a little step you can do to quickly and safely check it out if you have doubts. We all should know by now that rule one is you never open an attachment unless you know the sender and can scan it before opening. But what about a link that looks normal? Just because your computer is 'protected' is NO guarantee that you won't pick up a virus or spyware, etc.

The copied email's first 'warning' was that only 'a friend' sent you a card. Any reputable card site will list the sender. But instead of some weird site, this one, at first glance, looked more legit as it listed a common ecard company website, 123greetings.com, and a sponsorship by well known eHarmony:

-----------------------------------
DO NOT CLICK ON ANY OF THE LINKS BELOW!
-----------------------------------
Dear Friend ,
Your friend has sent you an ecard from
http://123Greetings.com.

Your ecard will be available with us for the next 30 days. If you wish
to keep the ecard longer, you may save it on your computer or take a
print.
To view your ecard, choose from any of the following options:
--------
OPTION 1
--------
Click on the following Internet address or
copy & paste it into your browser's address box.

http://www.123greetings.com/view/GW10107105249120

**************** Sponsored By eHarmony ****************

>>> Who Do You Match With? <<< rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://softcity.hometowncomputers.com/icons/small/HappyEaster.scr">http://clk.atdmt.com/AVE/go/123gcehy0160000013ave/direct/01/
(note: spammer screwed this part up)
********************************************************
--------
OPTION 2
--------
Copy & paste the ecard number in the "View Your Card" box at
http://www.123greetings.com/view/GW10107105249120

Your ecard number is
GW10107105249120
Best wishes,
http://123Greetings.com

--------------------------------------------
END OF SPAMMED EMAIL
--------------------------------------------

If you are at all curious about ANY link anywhere, simply put your cursor on the link and RIGHT CLICK...at the very bottom of that pop-up window is "Properties"....click on that and then you can read the real website that link takes you to. It doesn't take you to the site or anything like that, just let's you assess legitimacy if you need to. I do it out of curiousity. FYI, the above links take you to some 'softcity' and 'hometowncomputers' site instead of the ones listed.

I'll put a couple of samples below if you want try the above. ALL links below are secure and safe, by the way:

News 14 Carolina
http://www.news14.com

The World of Disney
http://disney.go.com

UNC Tarheels
http://GoTarheels.com

eHarmony

So, always throw caution to the wind...better safe than sorry, all that jazz. By the way, that last link hidden behind eHarmony is about my late great aunt Margaret Law, from whom I surely get a lot of my artistic drive and fervor for being 'unique'. Quite the artist and trailblazer, she.

Seize the day and make it blossom!


Monday, February 18, 2008

"More 'Nadoes, Please..."

...NOT....!

Yet another round of tornadoes blossomed yesterday in the Deep South; while not nearly as deadly and numerous as those earlier this month, record levels continue to be increased with each passing.

Concerned (a little) for the Triad, I knew we were on the northern periphery of the risk area defined by the NWS Storm Prediction Center, and that conditions were far more favorable for strong storms south and well east. Still, I had that uncomfortable feeling that I may well wake up, see something on my radar that would make me forsake my home-brewed coffee and hoof it to the station ASAP. Thankfully that is not the case this morning. Remember you can click on any pic to enlarge...

12:55am today, Monday

Heavy rain certainly was widespread to the south (then east) of Greensboro, with storms still working over to the I-95 corridor, Fayetteville, etc. Those Coastal Plain locations could see some storms reach severe limits, though at the time I'm writing there are no severe storm warnings and just one tornado warning in the FL panhandle moving into the SW corner of GA.

Yesterday afternoon, during a feeble attempt to do some cleaning up ('feeble' being almost too nice of a word...), I trained my radar program on western GA, whose storms were at least steaming up what would be the I-85 corridor if they held together. Of the several tornado warnings there, I started saving a couple of scans of one cell/warning that had it's bead on Atlanta. Ultimately the 'regular' radar-indicated cell moved through, roughly, Six Flags along I-20 on the western edge, and then through the Buckhead/Paces Ferry area on the north side of Midtown. As you will see, any damaging winds may have been farther south of there. In checking the storm reports this morning, there was no mention of direct damage or a sighted funnel in Atlanta proper, but it was interesting to watch each scan and try to peer inside the storm a little.

I've paired the usual 'base velocity' scan with it's identically framed 'relative velocity scan'. The 'base' imagery is how you normally see storms portrayed on TV or basic internet images. It shows the intensity of rainfall, which also indicates to some degree storm size, strength and direction of movement. The 'relative' scan shows reds and greens: reds are winds moving away from the radar, and greens moving towards it. A rotating storm is analyzed for 'couplets' where you see well defined areas of red and green side by side, though not just any red in green or green in read is a tornadic signature. Let's just say radar interpretation is a science and skill all its own. Regardless, these few paired scans were interesting to watch and record every few minutes as it approached metropolitan Atlanta...

4:27 pm - This is the broader view that caught my attention, the purple tornado warning box with perfectly strong cells to the north...

4:56 pm - base scan

4:56 pm - relaltive velocity 1. Note couplet is down and right from radar-indicated storm and marker...funnels often push ahead, sometimes called 'right movers'...

5:00 pm - base scan shows storm on W/NW side of downtown

5:00 pm - relative velocity scan shows low rotation on south side...

5:06 pm - I'd have ducked in Lennox Square or Phipps Plaza!

5:06 pm - relative velocity scan shows couplet breaking up and more in line with base scan

5:15 pm - warning reissued for NW Atlanta...

5:15 pm - relative velocity shows only strong winds (brighter color) but no longer any couplet - that particular tornadic threat was now over.

Of course, such storms can produce damaging winds even without a funnel, especially strong straight-line winds in elongated storm lines. Time to head in to the station - my Raleigh compatriots already have full plate as the cell around Fayetteville has recently prompted a severe thunderstorm warning. "Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble..."

Ol' Willie had it right!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Fried Fridays: Absolutely shocking..."

It's safe to say there are many thieves and low-lifes out there, and they may well be a neighbor of ours. To steal or cheat innocent people out of hard-earned money, equipment, objects is beyond pathetic, yet some seem to have no conscience about it. Gotta love the messages we dole out to society everyday through media...

Well, it's safe to say there is at least one person who is feeling a bit of 'payback' for his or her 'attempted' deeds...

Don't worry...while they monkeyed around, they
didn't change into one, though the hair may be similar...



DATELINE: London, England

Somewhere in the English countryside there is a person who is pretty messed up. No, not from dealing in the drug trade, though that could have been a secondary involvement, but from stealing copper from a utility company.

Copper prices have been on the rise for a while, and targets for copper theft here in the States have risen to a discomforting degree, as well. Construction sites, especially, have become 'hits' for metal thieves looking to turn a quick buck at recycling yards; and utility substations are also on that targeted list.

And so someone broke into a Central Networks substation near Creswell in central England and thought they would abscond with some goodly amounts of copper. I mean, how hard can it be? Cut some large wires, drag it to your van or truck, and off you go. There's only one problem.

With hacksaw in hand, along with a lit propane torch, they cut into something much more than just a wire...it was a, 11,000 volt power cable wire. Duh.

Police found the embedded hacksaw and the lit torch beside it...but there was no person or body anywhere around. Nor has anyone showed up at any of the regional hospitals with what are surely serious burns, spiked hair, and all that good stuff that comes with such electrical charges.

"At the very least putting the hacksaw through the cable would have created an almighty bang and the line would have burned for quite a few seconds, showering them with molten copper... We can only assume they left in a great hurry or they were injured and were dragged away by an accomplice," so was quoted a member of the Derbyshire police.

Alas, that's where the story ends for now. No leads, no clues, just a strong notion that somebody somewhere is one hurting puppy...assuming they're even still alive. While I don't advocate ill will on anyone, I think they got a just 'consequence' for their intended actions.

I hope you'll remember that cutting into live wires with metal instruments is a "what were you thinking?" no-no...like sticking your tongue on a sub-freezing flagpole, only with the flagpole you'll live to tell about it.

"Cupid, draw back your bow...!"

Nothing like a white Valentine's Day, eh? 2-3" of slippery fluff dumped out early last night through most of the Triad, making for a very slick start to the day. It also didn't help that I forgot to set my alarm last night - luckily I woke myself up at 2am!

Thought I'd go dig up some facts on Valentine's Day...because there are 3 saints named Valentine or some variation thereof, and because there are several versions of how this might have all started in the first place...I figured I'd just deal with some random facts and figures that might be of interest. Here we go...

Cupid was the symbol for the Roman God of Love, and his mother was Venus. In Greek mythology he is known as Eros, and his mother Aphrodite.

74% of Americans celebrate Valentine's Day.

~15% of US women send themselves flowers on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day ranks #4 in the biggest candy-selling seasons, behind #1 Christmas, #2 Easter, and #3 Halloween.

In 1866, Necco started making the little candy hearts originally called "Conversation Hearts", then changed to "Motto Hearts". Rumor has it 8 billion of 'em are sold between January 1 and February 14, and 135 million of 'em don't make a lick of sense.

In 1868, Richard Cadbury introduced the first box of Valentine's chocolates.

California produces 60% of the roses in the U.S.

Teachers receive the most valentines.

Over 2.5 million men will buy their Valentine at their local mini-mart as they gas up.

~22% of men give their mothers a Valentine's Day card (sorry, Mom!)

3% of pet owners will get their pets a Valentine's Day gift. 0% of pets will give their owner a gift.

110 million roses will be bought in a 3-day period up to Valentine's Day, with an additional 1.2 million delivered the day after to get a deep discount...as well as blame the florist for the late delivery.

73% of flowers bought for Valentine's Day are by men (believe it or not, the other 27% are women - and 35% of those send the man the bill for them). Women purchase 85% of the cards.

64% of men do not make romantic dinner plans in advance for Valentine's Day.

Esther A. Howland, The Mother of the Valentine, began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America in the 1840s. She used lace, ribbons, and 'scrap' in her creations.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Thank you, Australia!"

It's a red-letter day for the indigenous Aborigines of Australia. The government just issued an official apology to the Aboriginal culture for the egregious wrong-doings of the government over more than 2 centuries. Among the many admissions was an apology for forcefully removing Aborigine children from their homes, forever separating them from their families while dominant culture 'reformed' the uncultured, primitive youngsters.

They forced them into foster homes, schools, and churches, thinking it would slowly put an end to that 'uncivilized' sector of their continent.

Such ideology was far beyond sad. It was disgusting.

And nobody did similar things any better than the United States.

The difference is the U.S. government has never made a concerted effort to right the wrongs committed against our indigenous peoples over the centuries (and even today). As recently as the first few decades in the 1900s our government was forcefully removing indian children from their homes, sending them to boarding schools where they were punished for speaking their native language or practicing tribal customs.

One elder I heard interviewed said after he had spoken Lakota in class, he was made to kneel on marbles in the corner for an hour. And I won't even begin to broach the forcing of Christianity upon them.

Our government has and continues to perpetuate a great injustice by remaining 'silent' on these and many other Native issues.

So thanks, Australia, for doing the right thing, showing us all how it's done - and for taking the extra steps to set up economic programs that will help rebuild the Aborigine culture.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Computers can be...

...in a universe all their own...

So are the retinas of my eyes: another universe viewed up close and personal. My right eye is on top, followed by the left eye just above. Had my eyes examined a couple of weeks ago (too bad the "head" doctor wasn't available...!) and had retinal photographs taken to ensure there were no signs of cataracts, macular degeneration, clots, etc.

Setting aside the clean bill of eye health (aside from my lousy vision), I thought the pictures were cool to have and look at. They'll enlarge nicely when you click on 'em.


Well, all I can tell you about Sunday night's power surge and ensuing computer woes early this morning is that just after 2pm Monday the computer decided to completely rebo
ot. While I'm no expert, I've learned my way around the computer world through trial by fire.

No two reboots were the same before the computer got to a point and froze...those points were all over the spectrum of the reboot time-frame. Hard-boots were my only way out, and that is discomforting to say the least when it's multiple events. Even 'safe mode' had serious issues, which doesn't bode well down the road; ala
s, I kept at it with an open mind and tried lots of little tricks to keep the memory working before it froze, thinking if I asked the computer to do something different out of turn it would 'wake up'. And it did.

And I have no idea why.


I will say the first thing I did was to disable Norton Symantec as I had it booting at start-up...I've had a lot of trouble with my Norton software causing processor issues from time to time, and I finally got to a point where I could disable it. Lo and behold, the ol' computer has been working like a charm since then (shouldn't of said that...!).

Which led me to ponder my 9 years as a high school biology teacher, all the while stressing the basics of "scientific method". Interestingly, it has great value for all of us in our day to day lives. At the very core of that process, ye
a the very foundation, is the idea that you must start any inquiry with an open mind and no prejudgments. When you 'assume' things you automatically shut the brain's door to looking at all possibilities...what seems a 'sure' thing is not at all necessarily true.

Classic case. I hand you a brand new (as in unopened) can of peanuts. You can't see inside, but it says 'peanuts' and sounds like peanuts when you shake it. And so I would ask students "What's inside this can?" Invariably the answers were the same...

"Peanuts..."

"Air..."

"Salt..."

"Oils..." etc.

"No, all those answers are incorrect," I would quickly say.


"Is this a trick question?" someone would ask.


"Yes and no, really. So what is the only true answer as to what is in this can?"

Usually someone would finally come up with the answer, after prodding.


"I don't know what's in there," they would say.

"That is correct," I would add.


And as is the case with some of you reading this, there were deer-in-the-headlight blinks and 'huh?' whispered through the classroom. You assume all those things listed above are in there, but the fact is since it's sealed...you don't truly 'know' the contents. You could not see them, taste them, smell them, none of that. You made assumptions. A scientist can ill afford to prejudge things when beginning to form a hypothesis, as it could lead down a very long, wrong, and costly trail.

And while this is a simple example, imagine how many times all of us make assumptions about things as being 'truth' before we really know all the information.


Ignorance is bliss? I say ignorance is inexcusable. Be aware of what you assume to be true, especially when it deals with human interactions.

And somehow I got to this point after starting with retinal photos from inside my head. Scary place.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Trouble in paradise

Sometime last night in the last of our windy conditions, after I'd gone to sleep, there was a power surge of sorts that actually cut on the living room TV and my computer...only my computer didn't like the direction of the sudden electircal flow and I was never able to successfully boot it up earlier this morning without it locking at different stages each time. No blue screen of death, mind you, not yet...but problems I'll have to address after work later today. Wish me luck.

Bottom line: no computer, hence no posting for now. At least yesterday's maelstroms are but a memory as the front has long passed. Found an 81 mph gust at the Jefferson gauge in Ashe County....whoooooosh! Have a good 'un, y'all.

Friday, February 08, 2008

"Fried Fridays: Cat Agility Trials"

This is NOT one of your weird weekly news stories that I normally write about...but I found it to be off my mental beaten path and humorously cute.

I have always been a dog person, yet was a cat-dog person for a couple of years. Suffice it to say dogs and cats are, well, quite different. Via TV, there is the Westminster Dog Show, and various Eukanuba shows in between. I love watching the breeds and the dogs...but when it comes to cats, even though there are national shows, they simply aren't shown on cable to the same extent. Of special fun is to watch the dogs blitz through an agility/obstacle course...

But the story that caught my eye is the growing popularity of cat agility trials, which struck me as a bit of an oxymoron. I'm sure cat's could do it well...if they felt like doing it at all. I just wanted to give the felines their due...

I appreciate cats...they are admittedly a very different breed of, well, cat. Cats and dogs are often a world apart in behavior and 'being', as many of you know. And while I have grown accustomed to seeing various dogs, like Border Collies, negotiate agility courses,I was not expecting to find a tabby eager to do the same...

And yet it is a quickly growing genre of animal videos, cat agility...and being amused I wanted to pass along links to help create a usable image for you...


Thursday, February 07, 2008

2008: A whirlwind start

Luckily, the Carolinas were spared severe weather, outside of a few wind damage reports close to the TN border. It's not that unusual to see such a severe weather outbreak, especially at a time of year that can have both decidedly cold and warm air masses butting heads. Conditions east of the Blue Ridge greatly quelled the atmospheric energy once it arrived.

Thought you might find the following data of interest, preliminary as the numbers are as I write this post. These #s are from the NWS's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK, tallying data for the first 37 days of 2008:


# of tornado reports issued by the NWS
between 3p Tue. and 6am Wed.:
1,000+

Running totals for 2008:
Tornado reports: 204*
Hail reports: 409
Wind reports: 872
(*most # tornadoes in a month:
May 2003 had 543 tornadoes,
of which 354 occurred within the first 12 days)

Monthly breakdown of tornadoes:
January - 136
February - 68

3-year average for tornado formation:
January - 34
February - 25


Most tornado reports so far this year:
Missouri - 67
Tennessee - 32
Arkansas - 28
Mississippi - 27

Most active days (tornadoes):
01/07/08 - 75 tornadoes
02/05/08 - 67 tornadoes
01/10/08 - 36 tornadoes

(FYI: Super Outbreak of 1974
greatest tornado activity
with 147 funnels on April 3-4;
see map below)


Average annual # of tornadoes in U.S.
(3-year average):

1159


Most active days (total storm reports):
02/05/08 - 365 reports
01/07/08 - 333 reports
01/29/08 - 309 reports

All this data collection about "Stormy Weather" makes me suggest again renting that classic movie if for no other reason than to watch the phenomenal Nicholas Brothers dance to Cab Calloway's orchestra late in the movie...or click HERE to see that video clip I've posted about before.



Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tuesday's and today's severe weather

updated Wed. AM - Birmingham, AL radar
bright red hook is a radar-indicated tornado...

same perspective as the radar grab above, but this is an image portraying 'storm relative velocity'...green/red show winds moving in the opposite direction, and where the hook is you see a 'brightened' effect...and you can safely assume it's causing problems on the ground below

updated Wed. AM - Birmingham, AL
pink: tornado warnings
red: thunderstorm warnings


Tuesday's Tally:
Over 50 tornado reports.

Over 250 damage reports.
Over 20 deaths.

It's been the perfect breeding ground for severe weather with the record-setting warmth in the south and a cold winter airmass plowing southward from Canada. We set a record high in Greensboro yesterday at 74 degrees, and will surely do so again today as the record is only 66 degrees.

The main concern for we Tarheels is what are the chances we'll have severe weather in North Carolina? Certainly TN is loaded with tornado warnings and watches galore (as well as other states), and it all should get here later this afternoon. Our risk appears to be slight, and one model we use here at the station has nothing falling in eastern North Carolina.

I've put some maps in from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK that I nabbed around 1:30 am, along with some radar grabs from KY and TN, if you like to look at those things. Remember to click on the picture to enlarge it for easier viewing of the data.

Tuesday's preliminary data chart


Preliminary 3-hour data shortly after midnight...the tornadoes continued on...

Jackson, KY radar with tornado warnings in pink and severe thunderstorm warnings in red outlines...


Nashville, TN radar

The big problem with night tornadoes is, of course, people are asleep and you can't see it coming. Many reports yet to come in, and plenty more severe storms will rear their heads. KY and TN were getting hit hard overnight, and it looks like more of the severe activity will translate a little farther north toward the upper Ohio River Valley.

I'll update with more pertinent information as I get my paws on it...for now I'm putting interesting radar scans in at the top as I find them.