Showing posts with label weather. Show all posts
Showing posts with label weather. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2013

On Weather

Mark Twain once observed that everybody talks about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it.

About three o'clock this morning, the rain began to fall. It came in waves.

When I got up at 6:00, I checked the weather forecast on Town Dock, as I usually do. I found the probability of precipitation to be 7%. It is now twenty minutes after 8:00, and the rain is still pouring down. It is thundering as well.

Something seems to be amiss.

When I was ten years old, people explained any unusual or unwanted weather as being "because of those atomic bomb tests."

Today we know better.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tornadoes In Oklahoma

The people of Oklahoma, my home state, are strong, patient and persistent. They live in tornado country. After every big tornado comes through, they pick up the pieces and start over again.

Tornadoes aren't like hurricanes. No weather service can predict the path of a tornado, how big it will be, how long it will be on the ground. No house of mere wood and brick can withstand a tornado as strong as the one that struck Moore, Oklahoma yesterday.

It has been always thus.

That's why, when I was a child in rural parts of the state, every farm, every large building, every school, had a storm shelter.

I once attended a two-room, four grade school, a large white-painted frame building with an out house in the back. We had a storm shelter.

Another school I attended, East of Oklahoma City, held eight grades in six classrooms, and had an underground storm shelter big enough for all the students, the teachers and the residents of about a dozen nearby houses.

It was good to know which of your neighbors had storm shelters.

When the weather was right for tornadoes (and we could tell) we would stand outside and watch the gathering clouds, especially those of a greenish hue with tendrils reaching down toward the ground. As the clouds approached, we would debate whether to go to the school and seek shelter.

I remember photographs in the Daily Oklahoman in 1947 when a massive tornado destroyed the town of Woodward, west of Oklahoma City. The town rebuilt.

I was living in Tulsa in 1999 when the last big twister hit Moore and damaged other towns all along the Turnpike between Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

That being said, while admiring the pluck of the people, I am appalled at the indifference of their elected leaders.

Why did the two elementary schools in Moore that Monday's tornado decimated not have storm shelters?

This is inexcusable.

Sixty-five years ago, Oklahomans knew how to protect their school children.

This is not the sort of thing a state's leaders should forget.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's An Ill Wind That Blows No Good

I'm watching the track of hurricane Isaac as it heads up the Mississippi valley. Maybe in the process it will deposit enough rainfall to let the freight barges move more easily downriver. Good for the economy, even if it is mostly too late for the crops in the Midwest.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Why Is It So Hot In Oklahoma?

In case you were wondering about the heat in Oklahoma and in Texas, here's a link to a Washington Post article that explains: 

Climate change is here — and worse than we thought

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wind Comes Sweeping Down The (Very Hot) Plains

My home state of Oklahoma has become a very hot, very windy, convection oven. Here's the report from Weather Underground's Dr. Jeff Masters:

"Historic heat wave in Oklahoma
A second day of destructive fires affected Oklahoma on Saturday, thanks to extreme heat and drought, low humidities, and strong winds in advance of an approaching cold front. At 3 pm CDT Saturday, Oklahoma City had a temperature of 107°, a humidity of 19%, and winds of 16 mph gusting to 22 mph. The Oklahoma fires have destroyed at least 125 homes. The high temperature in Oklahoma City on Saturday reached 109°, the 12th warmest temperature recorded in the city since records began in 1891. Friday's high of 113° tied for the warmest temperature in city history.

Figure 3. Highway 48 is covered in smoke as flames continue, Saturday, Aug 4, 2012, east of Drumright, OK. Image credit: Associated Press.

The only comparable Oklahoma heat wave: August 1936
The only heat wave in Oklahoma history that compares to the August 2012 heat wave occurred during the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936, the hottest summer in U.S. history. Oklahoma City experienced three days at 110° that summer, and a record streak of 22 straight days with a temperature of 100° or hotter. Those numbers are comparable to 2012's: three days at 110° or hotter, and a string of 18 consecutive days (so far) with temperatures of 100° or hotter. The weak cold front that passed though Oklahoma Saturday will bring temperatures about 10° cooler over the next few days, but high temperatures are still expected to approach 100° in Oklahoma City Sunday through Tuesday. It's worth noting that Oklahoma City has experienced only 11 days since 1890 with a high of 110° or greater. Three of those days were in 2011, three in 2012, and three in the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936."

Monday, July 30, 2012

Raising The House

A new tropical wave appeared today off the coast of Africa. Designated Invest 99, the new wave has the potential of developing into a tropical depression.

Which serves to remind us that it was about eleven months ago when Hurricane Irene descended upon Oriental, bringing the highest storm surge in recent memory. Some of us have not yet completed repairs and mitigation measures.

This afternoon a contractor elevated our house high enough to escape likely storm surges for the future. At least if sea level rises no more than a foot or two.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tornado In Woodward: Deja Vu All Over Again

Tonight's news broadcast showed scenes from last night's deadly tornado in Woodward, Oklahoma. No one has seen such destruction, the announcer explained.

Actually, I remember an even bigger tornado that hit Woodward. It was the 9th of April, 1947, just before my tenth birthday. We lived in Midwest City, Oklahoma, just across the highway from Tinker Air Force Base. The next day, the Daily Oklahoman was filled with photographs of the damage. At least 107 lives were lost in Woodward that night, and it looked like the town had been wiped off the map.

The 1947 tornado, rated as F5, killed 69 people in Texas before entering Oklahoma. It was almost two miles wide and stayed on the ground for a distance of 100 miles. It remains the most deadly tornado ever to strike Oklahoma.

Woodward came back after the 1947 twister, and it will do so again.

And in time a new generation will forget it ever happened.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oriental Town Meeting October 4, 2011: Rainy Day?

Bizarre town meeting tonight. Only four commissioners present (Commissioner Styron was absent).

After an interminable discussion of minutes, the board considered a request by the town manager to amend the budget. Purpose: to appropriate funds to pay bills incurred and projected for hurricane clean up and remediation, including mosquito control. When two commissioners pointed out that there are still unexpended funds in the budget, the manager explained that he has no authority to expend those funds for any purpose other than the authorized line items. Except for hurricane expenditures, the approved budget is being implemented with no problems. He further explained that hurricane expenditures will be reimbursed 75% by FEMA and 25% by the State of North Carolina. The purpose of the amendment is to allow the town to pay its bills before FEMA and state reimbursements are received.

"Well what if they don't reimburse us?" Commissioner Johnson asked. "I'm worried that the Oriental taxpayers will be stuck with the bill."

After reiterating that he has negotiated the details both with FEMA and the state and explaining that he is carefully establishing a project number for each job, following FEMA guidelines, the manager posed a key question. Suppose there were no FEMA and no funds from the state. Is there anything the town is doing (debris pickup, mosquito control, etc.) that the board wouldn't want the town to do anyway. He received no answer.

The board rejected the motion to approve the budget amendment.

Commissioner Johnson then introduced a new motion to approve a smaller amount than requested for hurricane debris pickup and for mosquito control.

A similar series of actions first rejected a requested amendment to the water fund, and then approved a lower amount than requested.

"Oh, we don't want to dip into the reserve fund," Commissioners Johnson, Roe and Bohmert explained.

In many states, the reserve fund is known as the "rainy day fund."

We just had a very rainy day (Irene) and the health and welfare of the residents of Oriental are seriously threatened. And our commissioners want to dither about whether to pay for contracted services for which we will be reimbursed.

Looks like tonight was another rainy day at the meeting.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Hurried back to Oriental because of the threatened hurricane - Irene.

Would like to sing "Irene, goodnight" but it looks like it may be "Irene, hello."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's Cold Up Here

If you plan on going to New Hampshire from Oriental anytime soon, remember it gets cold and rainy. Be prepared. I wasn't.