High: 61 Winds: SW 10-20 mph
Tonight: Partly Cloudy with Above Average Lows.
Low: 41 Winds: W 5-15 mph
Tuesday: Clouds Increase Later in Afternoon/Evening Another Warmer ...
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Apple Took A Bite Out Of Me
A lot of people love Apple products - myself included. Honestly I'd be happy w/ just about anything that actually works and Apple just happens to fall into that category. They also seem to last... a long time; which is what I think is the real reason behind my being a fan of the products. Yes, they may be a little more expensive but if they last twice as long then I'm not wasting my money.
As much as I love the company I want to point out that I'm not part of what I like to call the "Cult of Apple" as I like to call it. If you don't know what I mean think of that person you know who's love for the tech giant is almost annoying - he's part of it. My wife has a friend who used to work in public relations and one time she was a party celebrating whatever Apple's gizmo du jour happened to be @ the time. When workers were asked a question the mantra she kept hearing from person after person was, "The product is king." She tells me the common theme of monotone and repetition was boarderline creepy. Wednesday night I learned that the product can be anything but king.
I own an IPad and I've been playing Temple Run II for @ least a couple of years now. It's a lot of fun and while I'm not going to say I'm addicted to it the daily challenges have had me playing almost every single day for a little more than half a year. Wednesday night I sat down and played my typical game and met the daily objective. I was pretty excited b/c it marked a streak of 100 days straight of completed tasks (If I hadn't missed a day in September and one around the Thanksgiving holiday I'd be closer to 200 days). Not only that but I also finally completed the last goal the game had originally set for me - I ran my 10,000,000th meter. That may not sound like a big deal but since the daily challenge started I've covered a lot of ground - probably @ least 4,000,000 meters.
I shouldn't say it but I'm kind of proud of this accomplishment. It used to seem like an impossible task. But over time a slow trickle of play was able to wear this challenge down and I finally achieved it... to very little fanfare I might add. After I'd completed it I noticed I had an update to install. I guess I had to upgrade to IOS7. So I downloaded the thing and tried to restart my IPad.
I did and got a screen I've never seen before (see pic below). I didn't know what it meant but I knew it probably wasn't good - sadly I was right. I guess I had to do what's known as a factory restore. So I did and it totally reset my device. I backed things up in the Cloud... or so I thought. When I went to download the backed up data I found nothing... @ all.
All of my photos - gone. Every single video I've saved - gone. All of the progress on my games - well, that's gone too. In short, I'm not happy. This may sound bad but I think the thing I'm most upset about is the loss of my Temple Run II triumphs. I had some pictures of my kids but they weren't very good. No, my children aren't funny looking and they weren't picking their noses in the photos either. The camera on the IPad II is terrible so I didn't take many photos w/ it. But my Temple Run... well, I guess those accomplishments are lost to history. I should look @ the bright side and just be happy that I actually set a goal for myself and achieved it.
But this all takes attention away from a bigger problem: this is a TERRIBLE way to design company products. If updating my device totally wipes the memory then the softward platform is way past questionable in my mind. Admittedly I'm not a programmer so that statement may be factually inaccurate.
What I am is a consumer. And like most consumers I'm not an expert. In fact, my knowledge of this stuff is barely passable and I consider myself a smart person (many would argue but that's up for debate). But if I have this problem then I'm probably not alone. I'd go as far as saying that if I had this problem it's safe to say a large portion - if not a majority - of those who use the products have had it as well. And I actually found a number people complaining about the same issue - that's not good.
And why is your software so bad that I have to do a complete tear down before I build things back up? That makes even less sense. If I want to rebuild an engine I don't melt down every single part, reshape said parts and then remake it. I find what's wrong, fix it and then move on. I'm sorry but the fact that I could lose everything is just stupid.
Now I know I was warned that this might happen but this was AFTER I'd already downloaded the darn update. @ least give me the chance to uninstall so I can then do a proper back up. Not only that but if your software is that intuitive then why not make it clearer that a proper back up hasn't been done? @ the very least make me sync up w/ my computer before proceeding. Again, it's just stupid.
I hope to hit up the Geek Squad in the next couple of days to see if I can figure this out but truthfully I'm not all that optimistic. Seeing that I have Apple products across the board I'm kind of stuck b/c I'm not buying all new stuff. Even if I can't retrieve my data I'm going to figure out how to make sure this NEVER happens again. B/c if have to start over after I hit another 10,000,000 meters in Temple Run II I'm going to be more than upset.
The Unfriendly Skies
It's been awhile since I've been on a plane. I think the last time I flew was in the Summer of 2013. I usually fly once a year or as little as possible. While I'm not a huge fan of flying that hasn't always been the case. The first time I ever flew was when I was in fourth grade... it was pretty cool.
Nowadays it seems like a chore - I have to arrive early, wait in line and then fight to get an armrest. The only saving grace is that Dayton International is a small airport so the magnitude of these problems isn't as great as it would be were I using one in a more populated area. Having said that it can still be a pain.
To top it all off I'm now paying to get my luggage onto the darn aircraft. This is ridiculous if you ask me. I don't mind paying for the service but just charge me more for my ticket. I hate arriving @ the airport only to have to shell out $25-$35 just to get my clothes to wherever my destination happens to be. That's why I pack as much as I can into my carry-on.
Luckily I travel light but others might not be so lucky. United Airlines is now going to start charging passengers a $25 fee if they bring what's known as an "over-sized" carry-on bag onto the plane. Apparently they have dimensions bags must adhere too in order to be allowed on-board. While this could have some pros - we've all seen the overhead bin filled to the brim - but I also see some definite cons (primarily the "are you kidding me?" factor). Someone who tries to board w/ an "over-sized" carry-on will apparently have to turn around, go back to the ticket counter, check their bag and then re-board.
The airline says it's doing this to "speed up the boarding process". To this I say, yeah right! While I have no proof my gut tells me this is all about money. IF someone has to go back & check their bag then the flight could be late in leaving the terminal. If the airline chooses not to wait then that same passenger could be charged another fee (i.e. a change fee) b/c he was forced to miss the flight in the first place.
Let's look @ the facts: In 2012 - the most recent year w/ available data - airlines collected a record $3.5 billion in bag fees. According to an analysis by USA Today the profits generated by airlines in 2012 could be attributed to what was collected in bag and change fees. That suggests that the only way to make the aviation industry profitable is to nickel & dime - and thus annoy - its customers to the point of exhaustion. That also suggests that if carriers can find ways to squeeze more money out of their customers they'll be that much more profitable. Again, while I can't say that the motives behind the hike aren't altruistic my gut tells me otherwise. So much for the "friendly skies".
One could argue that taking a bag makes the plane heavier hence the fee. To that I say, "Then why don't you charge my 35 lb. daughter less b/c she's cheaper to transport?" If you really wanted to keep people from unduly weighing down the plane then maybe you could give me money for not bringing a bag. While that may not make much business sense the logic works out in my head - of course I rarely check a bag in the first place.
All of this makes me want to drive. And if you factor in travel to and from the airport, the hour-and-a-half early you need to show up, the actual flight itself and the time it takes you to get out of the airport to which you're travelling it may end up taking just as long. Driving just as time-consuming as flying? Wow, my fourth grade self would be amazed by how much the world has changed.
"Plowing" Through This Winter
I think the thing I've hated most about this winter is the snow shoveling I've had to endure. The bitter cold is a close second but the shoveling has been just awful. It probably wouldn't be so bad if I weren't so fastidious about it. I like to have as much as I can removed from the driveway. There are a few reasons for this. For one thing if I drive over the snow it squeezes most of the water out of it and then just freezes. Once that happens it's tough to get rid of and a sheet of ice sits on my driveway for the duration of the cold snap. Also, if I keep it clean it has a better chance of staying that way b/c the blacktop heats up during the day and keeps all of the little piddly snowfalls from sticking.
I guess the one saving grace is the fact that what I've had to remove hasn't been too heavy. What I mean is that most of the snow I've moved off my driveway has had a low moisture content. That means it's the finer, fluffier snow - bad for snowmen but easier to get rid of. When you see that snow w/ lots of moisture it's real heavy and kills your back when you shovel it - my kids love it for snowballs, though.
I remember one such snow earlier this season (I think it was the one in early February). I got home after the late newscast and knew I wouldn't be able to make it up the driveway unless it was cleared. So I changed and got to work. It was horrible! I swear it took me an hour-and-a-half to fully clear my driveway; and it was still snowing as I did it which means I was extra busy. I have this great shovel. It's kind of like a giant plow that's attached to a long stick. It works great but when the snow is that heavy and a couple of inches accumulate it doesn't work all that well. In the past I have put it in the snow, pushed it four feet and it just stopped. That's not good - and that was the case that night. I've actually gotten a workout from snow like this. Normally I wouldn't mind that part but when I get home late @ night the last thing I want to do is spend time justifying doing a chore that I hate by calling it "exercise".
Worse than that, I had to deal w/ the snow plows. I'm not complaining about them in a general sense... they do a very good job in my neighborhood. What I hate is how I take the time to shovel myself out only to watch the salt trucks plow my driveway back in; it's terrible. That night as I was only about halfway through the clean up efforts when I heard a plow driving around my neighborhood... my heart sank. It cleared my street and sure enough it dumped a 8" wall of snow @ the base of my driveway. I was hot. No literally... I was hot. I'd drenched the inside of my jacket by this point and knew I now had that much more work to do. And b/c it was such a heavy snow I knew it would take me that much longer.
Which gets me to the point of the story. This last snow that came through meant I had another chore to finish. Thankfully this one wasn't as bad b/c it was so cold - which meant it had a lower moisture content so I could easily clear the driveway. I finished the chore in about 15 minutes - which is the way I like it - and took the time to clear off the snow in front of my driveway about eight feet deep into the street. I know that sounds like a little much but I wanted to make sure I was prepared.
Later that day I learned I was. When I heard the plow driving down my street I looked out my front window. Yes, it did throw some snow back into the shoveled area... but not much @ all b/c of my "pre-treating". I let out an almost maniacal laugh and thrusted my fist into the air in triumph. Jeff Booth: 1 - Kettering City Snow Removal: Nuthin'! Actually, they're probably up about 10 or 15 on me... but not today :) Below you'll find a photo of the paltry attempt to "snow me in".
A Late Week Warm-Up Is Sounding Fantastic!!!
Another winter storm has come and gone but now we're left w/ bitterly cold temperatures in its wake. As that storm departed to the east we've watched it drag in colder air behind it. As I type an area of high pressure is drifting over the Miami Valley (see figure 1). This will lighten up the winds and allow for mainly clear skies to start Monday evening. By Tuesday morning we're tracking the coldest temperatures on the 7-day. And w/ an overnight low of 2 we'll be flirting w/ the record low for March 4th - set back in 2002 when temperatures dipped to 1 degree.
Most of the workweek will be spent below average and Tuesday afternoon will struggle to get into the mid and upper-20s. Like I said, below average... but better than the teens.
Our warm up will continue through the work week. Wednesday we're back above freezing which is all right w/ me and on Thursday we're even warmer as we flirt w/ 40. Friday looks like the best day of the week as our winds shift to the southwest and pump up warmer air (see figure 2). This will bring us highs in the mid & upper 40s and a few of us have the potential to get to 50... it's going to be awesome!!!
On Saturday things change a little bit. That SW'ly flow will usher in warmer weather and more moisture. That will bring us some off & on showers and possibly a wintry mix by the end of Saturday (see figure 3). While you might not like hearing that let me highlight the good so we don't focus on the bad: we're talking about rain and a wintry mix... not plain old snow. That's a good thing in my book.
But if you take a closer look @ figure 3 you'll notice high pressure will be building out behind that next batch of precipitation. Notice we'll be on the front side of the high. If you read on a regular basis I apologize for repeating myself. When you're east of high pressure winds are coming in out of the north or northwest more often than not. This drags in cooler air. And that's exactly what we'll see. Luckily it won't last all that long - just through Sunday. By Monday more clouds are in the forecast but a SW'ly wind will push temperatures back above average and we'll be back "tickling 50" before you know it.
Yet Another Winter Storm
Wow, this has been a crazy forecast!!! Let me start off by saying that we're tracking what's expected to be a significant winter storm over the weekend. It will begin affecting us early in the day on Sunday and it looks like the worst of it will roll through the heart of the Miami Valley Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning. Impacts from this storm include heavy snow, sleet, the threat for a little freezing rain and possibly even some ice pellets. Basically we're expecting a mixed bag of precipitation w/ this coming system. While we still don't have a great hold on exactly how much of anything we'll see things are starting to come into focus a little better then they were a few days ago.
Having said that let me point out that this has been yet another TOUGH forecast! We use computer models of the atmosphere to help us forecast what the coming weather will be over the forecast period. In short they've been ALL OVER THE PLACE!!! A couple of days ago models were hinting @ up to 14" in some parts of the Miami Valley. Earlier on Friday one of them was still calling for up to about 12". Normally that wouldn't be bad except that other models are calling for next to nothing w/ this coming storm.
If one model is calling for 12", another is forecasting 8" and yet a third is hinting @ 9" they may not in total agreement but @ least they're close so it's a little easier to start to form a picture as to what to expect. When one is calling for a foot and others are calling for no snow just sleet, freezing rain or ice pellets and yet a third model is calling for 6" there's a lot of model-to-model variability. When those same models are coming up w/ different solutions each successive run then you have run-to-run variability. Neither of those are good when you have both... well, lets just say that's what gives a meteorologist heartburn. Unfortunately for me we've had both model-to-model and run-to-run variability. So basically it's been a little stressful recently.
Let me show you what I mean. In figure 1 I've posted what one of the weather models is forecasting for Sunday evening. The green is where we will have precipitation. The thick black line highlights an estimate of where the rain/snow line will be. North of it has the best chance for snow, south will see a mix and the farther south you go eventually rain. This would suggest that we'll see mainly snow in the north of I-70 and a wintry mix south of it before turning back to snow.
Figure 2 is representative of the same time frame and if you notice that estimation of the rain/snow line is south of the viewing area. This would suggest we see all snow throughout the event - and hence the higher totals.
And these are just two scenarios. There are other models that are out of agreement as well - all of them fighting over where the rain/snow line will fall. What I will say is that the heavy snow solution seems to be the outlier in all of the different scenarios. Right now I still think the heaviest snow in the Miami Valley will be north of I-70 throughout Sunday. In the south a little more sleet will mix in and in the far south there will be the threat for a little ice and they'll see lower totals. I think there will also be another area of heavy snow in Kentucky and Southern Ohio (outside of the Miami Valley) into Monday morning. Below I've posted what the snow totals look like as of this posting. Keep in mind there's a good chance this could change as we get more data but right now that's how things are looking.
On a side note I have to say this has been one heck of a Winter. This is the fourth of fifth system that we've tracked where the rain/snow line basically straddles the area. That makes forecasting very tough and I hope this is the last storm of the season for a few reasons. For one thing I'm tired of shoveling my driveway but more than that I don't know how many of these nail-biters I can handle. I think it's safe to say this Winter has given me more than a few new gray hairs.
When I tell people I'm a meteorologist they get an idea in their heads as to what I do for a living. For most their experience w/ meteorologists involves watching him/her on television telling viewers what to expect from mother nature in the coming days. Aside from making a forecast, building graphics and delivering my prognostication on-air one thing you might not envision us doing is spending time out in the public meeting viewers. Believe it or not it's part of the job description.
It's actually something I enjoy doing when it fits into my schedule. It's always nice to talk w/ people and get feedback from them - as long as they don't tell you you have a big nose or throw some other insult your way. It's also a lot of fun to get out and talk to kids @ schools - they're always so excited & fascinated by weather and ask great questions. Thursday night I sought to fulfill some of the "community service" part of my job description.
Our station was hosting a Scandal viewing party for some of our clients and I agreed to drop by for a visit in between the early and late newscasts. I'd never been to the location of the soiree in question but didn't think that would be a problem - after all, I have a new smart phone (see last Friday's blog). I typed in the name of the night spot in question and followed the directions to get there.
When I arrived I pulled into the empty parking lot of a hair salon in Oakwood. I drove around to the rear of the building hoping to find I was just a little early or that everyone decided to park in the back... no luck. Turns out both of these places had the same name but only one was showing up on the map. And yes, it was the wrong one.
I was hot! Honestly, I was upset for a few reasons. For one thing I'd told a couple of the guys in sales that I'd be there. I was also looking forward to a free meal; who doesn't love one of those? But more than that I couldn't believe I got lost after using an app that's designed to help me find the easiest way to get somewhere. I felt like an idiot... and hungry.
So if my boss and anyone from sales is reading this I'm sorry I didn't make it. By the time I realized I went to the wrong place it was too late and I had to head back to the station. Oh, well. Maybe next time. And if you happen to be upset by the fact that I didn't make just remember that the fast food I was forced to get Thursday night was no where near as good as what I would have gotten had I not trusted my phone and did a little on-line research. It may not make up for my absence but my dissatisfied taste buds can act as a small consolation prize.
Baseball Is Back - And I Couldn't Be Happier
Spring seems like light years away right now but Wednesday afternoon I was treated w/ a sliver of hope. No, it wasn't the sunshine, it wasn't the temperature and it sure as heck wasn't the wind chill. It felt a little like Spring b/c of a broadcast to which I had the pleasure to listen.
I meant to tune in @ 3:00 P.M. but I was busy. When I had a chance to settle in here @ work (about 3:15) I turned on my trusty work station radio - something I haven't used since October of 2013. Guess what I heard: that's right Marty and "The Cowboy" calling plays for the best baseball team this side of history... the Cincinnati Reds.
Preseason games began Wednesday and if you ask me they couldn't come fast enough. The Super Bowl is long gone (still can't believe the Broncos lost), the Olympics are over and I don't follow much hockey or basketball. Now the Reds are back on-air and I couldn't be happier. My wife? Well, that's a different story (something to be reserved for another day).
Full disclosure: it's only preseason. Yes it's still baseball but other than giving a fan bragging rights it doesn't really count. Still, when I turned on the radio and heard the drawl of Jeff Brantley dripping like fresh honey out of the speaker it was as if I was hanging out w/ an old friend... one w/ whom I was happy to catch up. Even better than that the team didn't sound too bad. Votto & Ludwick each got RBIs in the third putting the Reds on top. Heisey joined the party w/ a two-run shot and Donald Lutz had a two-run triple. It was awesome! The Reds ended up winning the game 8-3 and the pitching more than did its part.
Like I said, I know it's only the preseason and we still have about a month to go until Opening Day. (As of this writing it's 31 days 20 hours and about 59 minutes from that first pitch... but who's counting?) And even though we're still a ways off Spring Training offers me a little hope. Hope that the Reds will make it an historical season. Hope that everyone stays healthy. But more than that these first games bring the hope that brighter days and warmer weather will soon be here (which seems like nothing more than a pipe dream right about now).
And when Marty uttered seven of the most beautiful words in the English language - "And this one belongs to the Reds" - I couldn't help but smile. He said it @ the end of the team's first game. Here's to hoping he'll be saying it @ the end of the last game of the 2014 season.
I've met more than a few people who say they can't live w/out their phones. That technological wonder seems to have become nothing more than an extension of their arm and I don't see things getting any better anytime soon. Just look to the newest medical condition now making its way through the ranks. It's called sleep texting.
I'm sure it's not hard to figure out what this disorder entails but if you're having problems it's texting while sleeping. People have reportedly gone as far as shopping on-line while catching some z's. Doctors say it's a growing problem that's even more prevalent in those who already have trouble sleeping.
I can't believe it. Yes, I actually believe it happens I just can't believe we've gotten to this point as a society. It's kind of sad. Does your phone really mean that much to you that you can't live w/out it... even when you sleep? How connected does one have to be? I look forward to hitting the pillow every night for the simple reason that I get the chance to unwind and leave the waking world - including all of it's troubles and triumphs - behind. It's sort of like a way to hit the "reset" button; if I'm really tired it's almost as if I let out a pent up "mental sneeze" when I open my eyes the morning - feeling much better and ready to take on the day.
Another thing that I find interesting is the fact that people actually sleep w/ their phones. I just got a new one (see Friday's blog) but I don't ever see myself sleeping w/ on the nightstand. I usually leave it w/ my keys whenever I walk in the door. I'll admit, it's pretty cool but it also gives people a chance to get ahold of me whenever they want... that's not necessarily a good thing. If I were to sleep w/ the darn thing then I'd be accessible 24/7 and that's not cool... papa needs his down time.
I think what I find most fascinating about this is that people actually text or surf the web. There are reports of sleep texters holding their phone up in the air and typing real words all with their eyes closed. It fascinates me that they can actually type out words, or even log onto an online shopping site, w/out the help of their eyesight. That means that they've been on that keyboard so much they've memorized it and can subconsciously tap into that knowledge if necessary.
All I can say is that it's sad and I hope I never get to that point. If you start getting late-night, cryptic messages from warning of "Purple dogs jumping over green rocks before eating red dragons" then you'll know I've gone to the dark side though.
Back Into The Icebox
After a fantastic Saturday mother nature is playing a cruel joke on us. I don't know if you had a chance to enjoy the sun & warm weather over the weekend but if you didn't it's going to be awhile before you get another chance. It's already very cold in the area and w/ highs in the low 30s on Monday we were well below average. What's worse is the fact that those are the warmest temperatures that we'll see all week.
After some snow Monday night and Tuesday morning we'll see clouds decrease through Tuesday afternoon and only climb up to about 30. By Wednesday a sharp trough in the jet stream (see figure 1) will push south of the Buckeye State. I've said it before but I can't say it enough: the jet stream is the river of fast moving air high in the atmosphere that separates cold air to the north from warm air to the south. When we see a bend in the jet stream in our neck of the woods it means cold air is here; in fact Wednesday will only hit the upper teens. And that air is going to anchor itself across the region for longer than I'd like to say.
By Thursday we'll see a surface area of high pressure in control (see figure 2) which means that even though it'll be cold @ least it'll be sunny. Temps on Thursday will moderate back into the low 20s and we'll get into the mid & upper 20s by Friday. Even though it'll be a little warmer we're still looking @ highs that will be around 15 degrees below the average for this time of year... yuck!
Saturday doesn't look much better and by Sunday night we'll be talking about the next winter system (see figure 3). There's still a lot of time for the forecast to change (and it likely will) but right now accumulating snow isn't out of the question on Sunday night through Monday morning. Keep in mind that any change in the storm's path will dramatically change what type of precipitation we see so we'll have to keep tweaking that part of the forecast. No matter what happens w/ it one thing we do know is that a warm-up like the one we saw on Saturday is not in the cards anytime soon. I said it before and I'll say it again: yuck!!!
Ahhhh... The Wonders of Modern Technology
I'm happy to say I've finally jumped into the 21st century. @ the beginning of the week I was still using a flip phone; now I've been upgraded to a smartphone. And it's not just any smartphone, it's an Iphone 5s. I've posted "before" & "after" photos below. It's awesome! For one thing when I text I don't have to go to a number and press it multiple times to get the letter I need - I still hate the fact that "s" (one of the most common letters in the alphabet) required my pushing the number "7" four times but I digress. I can also check my e-mail, update our website and even play games on it. It's also super fast and takes cool pictures. I can also "face time" w/ people which basically means the phones I'd see in science fiction movies (i.e. video phones) have officially arrived - now I just need to find someone else w/ "face time"... there aren't many.
But for quite some time I've lampooned my old-school flip phone both on and off-the-air. And while part of me will miss the laughs the rest of me loves my new toy. But I still think I owe the old clunker a proper send off which is why I'm writing about it tonight.
@ one point in its life it was top-of-the-line, the envy of all other phones (mainly the giant "brick" cell phones of the time). It took pictures, in color, and had a number of different ringtones... I was particularly fond of the "samba". It also texted which was pretty cool... when I got it; even if I had to press "7" four times just to get the letter "s". It also brought me countless hours of happiness when I used it to catch up w/ friends on long car rides.
One thing I won't miss about it is the look I'd get from people when I'd pull out my phone in public. Usually when a stranger would see me w/ it he'd kind of shoot me a look of equal parts pity & shame. If it was someone I knew he'd usually say something along the lines of, "They still make those." Then I'd be reminded that I work in the news and there's no reason for me to have such a cruddy phone. Other than that "old reliable" and I had some good times.
But now it's time to move on. I have yet to download all of the cool new apps on my current phone but I think I'll find some time to get that done over the weekend. The first one I need to get is the "track my phone" app. That way if anyone tries to steal my new technological wonder I can track him down. Ironically that's something I never had to worry about w/ my old phone.
Tracking Severe Weather
We don't even have two full months in the books yet and we're already talking about what could be our first severe weather event of 2014.
You've probably noticed that it's been very warm as of late. I think it's been rather wonderful. We've seen some sun, gotten a chance to thaw out and even had a chance to enjoy the outdoors. Well it's going to be even warmer on Thursday... but that's not necessarily a good thing. With the warmer weather we'll see off & on showers and eventually storms by day's end.
The entire Miami Valley is under an elevated risk for strong storms Thursday evening (see figure one). W/ breezy conditions through the afternoon temperatures will soar to the upper 50s and right around 60. We'll also see lots of moisture being advected into the region which will destabilize the atmosphere. As a strong cold front pushes in (see figure two) we'll have a lifting mechanism and the winds a little higher in the atmosphere will be fairly strong. Some of this has the potential to be transported down to the surface. That means that gusty, damaging winds could be an issue by the end of the day.
Right now is looks like the worst of the weather will arrive sometime between 8:00 PM & midnight (see figure 3). Again, gusty winds are the primary threat w/ this event. But the ground is also VERY saturated and we'll also see the threat for heavy rain. That means that any rain that falls won't infiltrate into the soil and will run off giving us the threat for flooding heading through Thursday night and into Friday.
Right now it looks like the best chance for stronger storms and heavy rain will be in the southern portion of the Miami Valley. That's b/c there's a little more snow pack in the Northern Miami Valley. As a result folks up that way won't warm up quite as much so their severe threat is somewhat diminished. That doesn't mean they won't see anything I just think the Southern Miami Valley (south of I-70) has the best chance for stronger weather.
Be careful and keep it tuned to ABC22/Fox45 b/c we'll be tracking the threat all day long. And just in case you're wondering... there's another cool down by the beginning of next week when we see daytime highs in the 20s. Compared to where we've been the past few days I have to admit that I don't like that part of the forecast one bit.
Let's Put Winter 2013-14 Into Perspective
I think I can sum it up w/ one sentence: "Wow, it's been one heck of a Winter." Not only have we been getting brutally cold weather but Mother Nature seems intent on throwing storm after storm @ us which means the snow has been piling up... and it's been piling up quickly.
So how bad has it been? Well, let's start out talking about Meteorological Winter. That's the period of time from December through February. It's not the actual Winter but those are the months that winter weather is most common so for record keeping purposes we look @ those three months as Winter.
Snowiest Winters (December through February)
1. 52.3" 1977-78
2. 50.3" 1909-10
3. 42.4" 2013-14
4. 40.8" 2002-03
5. 39.7" 1963-64
With 42.4" so far we have the third snowiest Meteorological Winter on record. We're still pretty far off from number two so let's hope we don't get there.
Snowiest Seasons (First Snowfall to the Last)
1. 62.7" 1977-78
2. 54.8" 1950-51
3. 50.4" 1909-10
4. 44.8" 1963-63
5. 44.6" 2013-14
When we take into account the snowiest seasons on record - that includes the snow we get in October, November, March and (let's hope not) April - we're looking @ 44.6" on the season. That means we're in the midst of the fifth snowiest season on record but if you look closely @ the data we're knocking on the door of number four. With snow in the forecast Saturday night & Sunday morning I think we'll get there by the end of the weekend.
But the snow is only half the story. It's also been a very COLD winter. So far this winter season (2013-2014) we've dropped below zero 12 times. That puts us @ 6th on the list as winters w/ the most days w/ sub-0 temperatures.
Number of Days Below 0 Degrees (In a Given Year)
1. 21 1977
2. 20 1963
3. 15 1979
4. 14 1985
5. 12 (T) 2014
In a given year we're tied @ fifth for the most days with sub-0 readings on record (we share that dubious distinction w/ 1917).
So what does all of this mean? I guess it depends on how you look @ it. If you ask me it shows that this Winter has been awful - and we have the numbers to prove it. From a scientific perspective it shows that this has definitely been a Winter for the record books. Again, we have the numbers to prove it.
At Least Someone is Seeing a Warm Winter
When I got home Wednesday night I started watching the Olympics - I'm sure I wasn't alone (just change it back to us for our news). Downhill slalom and woman's snowboarding were the events on tap. I don't have a large emotional attachment to either but I can watch a sport I don't really care about if an American is competing b/c @ least I have a team for which to root.
As I watched the slalom skiers tear down the mountains I couldn't help but notice the "chattering" of the skis. The quick off & on contact of the ski w/ the snow on the hill reminded me of what I (a fairly inexperienced skier) probably look like when I take on the bunny hill - or if I'm feeling particularly brave venture down the green circle trails. What I'm trying to say is that those on the course didn't look like they were in total control. I noticed similar problems w/ the half pipers. While they looked great boarding in and out of the course there were times they weren't sticking the landing which of course affected the tricks the athletes were attempting.
That's when it hit me: the snow there must be pretty sloppy. It's clearly not the fresh powder to which these competitors have become accustomed. Then another thing hit me: maybe Sochi isn't the best venue to host the Winter Games. Let me explain - for that I will go waaaay back in time to my Climatology classes in this blog.
You see there's something known as the Koppen Climate Classification system. It looks @ regions by vegetation, average annual and monthly temperatures/precipitation and the seasonality of that precipitation and comes up w/ a template to describe the different climate regimes throughout the world.
Sochi, Russia has what's known as a Cfa or humid sub-tropical climate. They have humid, wet summers and dry winters. More than that they can be temperate @ times - even during the winter... which is exactly what we're seeing. Highs have been in the upper 50s & low 60s the past few days and they're forecast to stay in the 60s until next week when they'll drop back into the 50s. And the low to mid-50s are the average high temperatures in Sochi this time of year. Knowing that (which we did long before the site was named for the Games) should cause just about anyone w/ a very basic level of meteorology to realize problems could arise if a winter sporting event were hosted in that locale. I understand that it's colder on the mountains but those spots have been lucky to drop into the mid-40s the past few days. Again, I can't help but question the decision.
Now I get that officials had A LOT of snow put into storage in the event of unseasonably warm weather but that doesn't change the fact that it might not be the best idea to host the Winter Olympics in a place that has palm trees. No, they're not native to the area but they're still growing there... that should tell you something. I don't think it's an accident that the Summer Games have never been hosted in Santiago, Chile - the average high there in July & August is in the mid-50s to low-60s (lows are typically in the mid 30s).
Having said all of that I want to add that right about now I wouldn't be complaining if I were in Sochi enjoying the games... and more importantly the warmth. Lately it's felt a lot more like Siberia here in the Miami Valley. Which ironically would've been a great place to host this year's Olympics.
Valentine's Day Do's & Don'ts
A lot of people complain that this Friday (Valentine's Day) is nothing more than a made up holiday. Something put together by big flower and big retail so as to separate you from your hard-earned dollar. While that may be true it doesn't change the fact that it's still a bad idea to show up empty handed. @ the very least try to plan something to show that special someone just how special you find them.
If you are planning buying a gift maybe you need help on what to purchase. Alas, I'm not very good @ that stuff - I usually just buy my wife some nice flowers - but I can tell you what not to get.
1. Edible beef jerky underwear - yes it's out there. Let's face it lingerie is really a gift that a guy gives himself. But if delivered properly it can come off as a thoughtful present. Beef jerky underwear has no such sentiment.
2. Snow tires. Yes, we've had a rough winter but this is more a "Sweetest Day" than a Valentine's Day gift.
3. A 48-pack of toilet paper. I've discussed this in the past in this forum but I actually know someone who got this as a Valentine's Day present. Now that's romance - even if it wasn't the ultra-soft.
4. A pre-arranged funeral. This is another one I'm not making up - do a Google Image search. Don't know if this is a gift that comes w/ subtext or not but I know I'd need to pre-arrange my own funeral if I got this for my wife.
5. A framed picture of you and your ex. I'm sure there's someone out there who's dumb enough to give this one. If it's you and you're feeling brave send me a video of your significant other opening it. Should be a good laugh.
6. Dinner for two @ Hooter's. I guess the restaurant chain has 20 wings for $14 all day on Valentine's Day. It's a great promotional campaign but I just don't see couples lining up out the door for this one.
7. Name a roach after her. I can't say if they still do it but in the past the Bronx Zoo has given people the chance to name a Madagascar hissing cockroach after their sweetheart for $10. As the zoo says, "Flowers wilt. Chocolates melt. Roaches are forever." I don't know about you but I'd rather someone name a star after me even if it is a ripoff; stars don't get named the same way comets do... they're usually named via their coordinates which makes them easier to find - much easier than locating "Jeff Booth" in the night sky.
8. Flatulence by Mail - I paraphrased this one b/c this is a family forum. For $8.99 you can send "The True Symbol of Intimacy". While I'm chuckling as I type this (somewhat out of disbelief) please DON'T EVER GIVE THIS TO ANYONE for Valentine's Day. That's just gross. Funny, but gross. On a side note I think I have Christmas presents for my childhood friends taken care of this year.
9. Deodorant. Perfume isn't a bad gift but underarm deodorant is. Perfume says, "I want to accentuate your natural aroma". Deodorant says, "Your pits stink! It smells like you just left the gym. BTW, I love you!"
10. Any self-help book. 101 Ways to Lose Weight, How to Be a Better Wife/Husband and Break-Ups for Dummies all come to mind.
Sorry I haven't been able to help you find the perfect gift for your loved one this year but @ least I've narrowed down the field a bit. And keep in mind some of the above items are perfectly good for birthdays or the holidays.
"Eye" Feel For The Guy
While I hope you keep the channel locked to ABC22/Fox45 24-7 (that's a lot of numbers) I understand if you've been watching the XXII Winter Olympics. It's good television (just make sure you change it back to us during the local news).
But one thing struck me when I was watching on Sunday night - Bob Costas' left eye. It freaked me out. My wife asked what it was and I had no clue. I just called it "zombie eye" b/c it looked like something out of The Walking Dead which was ironically back on-air Sunday night.
Turns out Costas has a bad case of conjunctivitis or "pink eye". It's an inflammation of the outer layer of the eye usually caused by infection or an allergic reaction. I've never had it (knock on wood) but after watching the Olympics on Sunday night all I can say is that it's not pretty. Although rare if left untreated it can cause vision problems. It's highly contagious so when a college roommate of mine got it I was petrified. I was very fastidious about cleaning my hands, keeping from touching my face and actually washing my eyes and luckily I didn't catch it.
From what I understand it's pretty painful so my heart goes out to Costas. And it couldn't have come @ a worse time - arguably on the biggest sports stage in the world. It's so bad that he's missing his first Olympic prime time broadcast since 1988 and ending a streak of 157 consecutive nights of hosting the Olympic show that dates back to the 2000 Summer Olympics. I find it interesting how the network continues to call the condition by it's scientific name (conjunctivitis) and not it's common name (pink eye). It makes sense, though. Knowing how easy it is to catch I'd probably be less inclined to do an interview if someone had pink eye as opposed to conjunctivitis were I an Olympic athlete.
While this may or may not have anything to do w/ this story from what I've heard journalists in Sochi are staying in less than stellar accommodations. I've heard stories of stray dogs & construction workers wandering in and out of hotel rooms and seen pictures & video of disgusting water coming from the taps. I can't help but wonder if Costas splashed some of it onto his face only to get sick.
We'll probably never know where or how Costas caught the bug but I do hope he has a speedy recovery. I'm sure he's ready to get back to work but more than that I'll bet he just wants to "get the red out" so his life can resume as normal.
Frigid To Start But Warming Up Soon
I'm not going to lie to you: I'm tired of Winter. I've never been a huge fan of the cold but I could handle it. This is just ridiculous, though. The last time we were above freezing was way back on February 2nd when we hit 38. That's eight days in a row spent below 32 and we're going to stretch this streak for another two days (@ least).
I guess I can look @ the bright side and be happy w/ the sun we saw on Monday.
A ridge of high pressure has nudged it's way into the Midwest and we're seeing sunshine as a result. Of course we're on the front side of the high which means our winds have a northerly bend to them and that equals another blast of arctic air. We're looking @ more frigid weather and sub-0 lows Tuesday and Wednesday. As that high drifts east we'll see our winds bend back around from the south and we're back near (if not above) freezing by Thursday. I can't believe I'm this excited about 34 degrees but I have to admit that I am.
By Friday another system will work in and bring us the chance for more snow. Right now it doesn't look like we'll see much more than a light dusting to an inch or so but it's still pretty early so there's time for that part of the forecast to change but this system that's moving in doesn't look all that potent and there won't be much moisture to play w/ so I'm not thinking we'll get much. Saturday will be cold and cloudy and another system will push through here on Saturday night and Sunday morning. This one has the chance to bring us some light snow but again it's not all that potent so I'm not thinking we'll get much.
By the end of the weekend we're going to see a little change in the weather pattern (and it's a good one). As our winds shift to the south and SW things are going to warm up. We're expecting highs in the mid 30s on Sunday and we'll be flirting w/ 40 by Monday - some of us should get there. Now this isn't a major warm up by any means; in fact we'll really just be near the average high of 39. But after the weather we've seen as of late I'll take what I can get.
Lost In Time
The hit 80s band Loverboy once observed that "Everybody's Working for the Weekend"! It's a great song. Full disclosure - whenever I think of it the Saturday Night Live sketch w/ Chris Farley & Patrick Swayze trying out to be Chippendale's dancers pops into my head and I smile. Regardless of what it reminds me of I have to say that I don't really feel that way about my own life. I'm not saying that I'm sad when Friday rolls around but I rarely feel myself counting down the days until that magical time we've grown to call the weekend. Usually the only time I do so is when I have a vacation planned.
This week has been one of those anomalous stretches, though. It's just been a long one. I think it stems back to the fact that I worked on Superbowl Sunday. Yes that added an extra day but it was also an emotional game. I wanted Denver to win and after watching the team's performance I just felt spent.
Then we had Tuesday night's snow and ice storm which meant I lived and breathed weather (except for the hour I spend exercising) from Monday through Wednesday afternoon. The cumulative result of all this is me feeling exhausted. It's more a mental exhaustion (even though I'm a little sore from shoveling for 1.5 hours so I could get up my driveway on Tuesday night). It got to the point that by Wednesday afternoon as I was getting ready to record some stuff for work I was convinced it was actually Thursday. After about 15 seconds of retracing the week in my head I realized that I was off by a day... in the wrong direction. I really wasn't that upset but it was a bit of a gut check. That's when it hit me: it's been a long week.
We've all had them and the hope is that you're lucky enough to seem them few and far between. Honestly, it's not really all that bad... until the end of the work day - that's when I start to feel it.
I don't want it to seem like I'm using this forum as a place to solicit sympathy b/c I'm not. I'm just making a casual observation. What I can say is that I'm glad it's Thursday b/c that means it's almost Friday. And being the ever-optimist that I am I'm happy to say that I can find a silver lining in this whole ordeal: if time goes by faster and faster the older you get it's nice to see it slow down every once in awhile. I guess I should take advantage of this time and "stop and smell the roses"; okay that's a bad metaphor. Maybe a better one would be "stop and throw a snowball".
Winter Storm Recap
It's mid-Winter which means an ice storm is probably in the cards. We've had one every Winter since I moved back from Hawaii in the Summer of 2009. Most of those years actually saw an ice storm in the month of February as a matter of fact; 2012 is the exception - that year we had one in late January, then it got WARM. If you're not shoveling out of a half a foot of snow chances are you bore some of the brunt of our latest ice storm.
The event that hit Tuesday night into Wednesday was definitely the worst storm we've seen so far this season. Admittedly maybe you've gotten more snow in previous storms this Winter but this one had the biggest impact if you ask me. Everyone in the area saw something from it but more than that everybody got walloped by it. Some got significant snow and if you didn't see a half foot or more you got that dangerous ice. Either way this had huge implications on all of us.
So what did we see? Well, areas north of I-70 got anywhere from 6-10" of snow. Greenville had 10", Coldwater got 9", Wapakoneta clocked in w/ 8.5" and Bellefontaine saw 8". On the flip side of that coin we only saw about 3"-3.5" in some parts of the far Southern Miami Valley. But those areas saw more sleet and freezing rain mixing in so they had a whole different set of issues w/ which to deal.
All in all I'm pretty happy w/ the forecast as it verified in just about every area. I was a little low w/ my snow totals in the far SE where more ice mixed in as some of the spots that I thought would get 3" ended up getting about a half to an inch more. Everything else verified so I'll take it. The ice forecast was spot on - but I'm not necessarily jumping for joy on that one (ice is waaaaaay worse than snow if you ask me).
So after a busy start to February I'm ready for a break; and it looks like we'll get it... for a couple of days. By this weekend another system will approach bringing us the potential for another inch of so of snow. I don't want to think about it b/c I'm tired of Winter. And whilst we're in the midst of such a brutal winter I find my mind wandering back to my happy place - the beach. Right now the beach that was 0.8 miles from my house in Hawaii comes to mind - Kailua I miss your sun-drenched days and trade wind breeze right about now.
Breaking Down Our Latest Storm
Snow has arrived in the Miami Valley and we're just getting started. It looks like snow will continue into the overnight hours and towards daybreak for the northern portion of the Miami Valley. It gets a little trickier along and south of I-70 when it comes to tracking this latest event.
Heading through the overnight hours the rain/snow line is going to shift northward. By 3:00 A.M. it will eventually make it as far north as I-70 which means we'll see a bit of a wintry mix, sleet & ice in the south & SE. This will cut down on snow totals in these areas and that's why we're expecting to see the highest totals in the far north... they'll see snow throughout the entire time frame.
If you're getting less snow b/c of the mix don't think you're getting off easy b/c that means you'll see a better chance for freezing rain and sleet which means a sheet of ice will be a threat on some of those roads (throw some fresh snow on top of that and you're definitely going to have problems).
By the time all is said and done we'll see a huge range in snowfall totals anywhere from 1" to 10" depending on how much mixing you see where you live.
As I mentioned ice will also be an issue - especially in the far SE. Areas near Wilmington could pick up about a quarter of an inch or more by the time all is said and done.
The bottom line w/ this forecast is don't travel if you don't have too b/c it's going to be a mess on the roads. If you can wait it out until the roads are clear and then do what I've been doing since the snow event in mid-January (now three systems ago)... look forward to March 20th, the first day of Spring.
Tracking the Next Winter Storm
I'm sure you've heard about the impending winter storm and that means I've got some weather blogging to do!!! A Winter Storm Warning goes into effect for the entire Miami Valley beginning @ 4:00 P.M. on Tuesday.
The storm we're tracking is still hundreds of miles away but it'll be picking up steam and making a run @ us through Tuesday evening, pass over the area in the overnight hours before finally pulling out of here sometime around daybreak Wednesday. This system is expected to bring us a little bit of everything.
Tuesday evening snow will begin around Sunset (6:00 P.M.) and will be moderate to heavy @ times. By the time we hit midnight some warmer air is expected to wrap into the system a little higher in the atmosphere. It's known as an Elevated Warm Layer (EWL) and will lead to sleet, a wintry mix and even the potential for freezing rain - especially in the SE Miami Valley. We'll keep this mix around in the SE until sometime around 12:00 - 4:00 A.M. Wednesday before we just see light snow on the back edge of the system.
This has been a tough storm to forecast b/c the computer models that guide us have been all over the place. They have had trouble pinpointing the rain/snow line. That might not sound like a big deal but move that line 30 miles one way or another and it can have HUGE implications in the outcome of the forecast. As of 11:00 P.M. Monday different computer models have snow totals all over the map.
One thing that makes me happy is that I'm starting to see a little consensus in the data - which is a good thing as it gives us a little more confidence in what will eventually happen.
So I'm thinking areas along and north of U.S. 36 - maybe even I-70 - (I'm talking about Greenville, Piqua, Bellefontaine, Sidney, Wapakoneta, Celina, etc.) will deal w/ snow throughout this entire event. Areas like Dayton, Springfield, Eaton, Xenia, etc. will get some snow, then a mix, sleet and even a little freezing rain before this turns back over to all snow. Folks in the far south & SE (Springboro, Lebanon, Wilmington, etc.) will get more of that sleet and freezing rain before getting snow on the back edge of this storm. As a result this is what the forecast looks like right now:
6-9" in the far north.
4-7" in the heart of the Miami Valley
2-4" in the far SE
There's still time for this part of the forecast to change so I'll be looking @ each model run and provide tweaks as necessary. Be careful out in this and watch out on the roads Wednesday morning.
Groundhog Day... Again
If you feel like you're in a Bill Murray movie it might be b/c Sunday was Groundhog Day. While I never put a whole lot of stock in marmot meteorology it's still a fun way to ruminate on how wonderful it'll be once Winter ends... especially this one.
There's a long tradition of different cultures using animals to predict the weather. Some believe a frog's croak precedes inclement weather. Others look to the wooly worm to forecast the coming winter. I've even watched squirrels thinking I could get a leg up on the long-term forecast. As crazy as it sounds there could be some meteorological sense behind the groundhog's prognostication. Typically when you have lots of sun in February (or anytime in mid-Winter for that matter) there's an arctic high sitting on top of you; that means cold temperatures - but that typically means plenty of sunshine. So the thinking is that maybe the animal isn't afraid of its shadow, it's just afraid of the cold temperatures.
So what are our furry forecasters foretelling for the rest of the winter? Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow so he's calling for six more weeks of winter. But Buckeye Chuck and our very own Rosie out @ the Boonshoft Museum
did not see their shadows. That means they're calling for an early Spring. Let's hope they're right - for what it's worth Punxsutawney Phil thought Winter would come to a quick demise in 2013 and we all know how that turned out (two snowstorms in March, one of which hit in late in the month).
For what it's worth there are no climatological factors leaning towards an early/late end to Winter so one could argue it's understandable that the groundhogs couldn't agree.
I think we'll continue to see swings in the jet stream that lead to large fluctuations in temperature (like what we've seen so far this Winter). But I think as the storm track begins to retreat northward these swings won't be as severe - i.e. the cold snaps won't be as cold. That doesn't mean that we've seen our last blast of arctic weather I just think that when we see them they won't be as bad as they have been so far this year. I hope I'm right - both professionally and personally.
Does anyone balance their checkbook anymore? I only ask b/c I hate doing it and whenever I complain about the task to my colleagues more often than not they'll say, "You still do that?" Call me old fashioned but... yes.
I'm always reminded that, "You can just do that through online banking". While that may be true I can't help but think that it's kind of my responsibility to keep an eye on my money. It's not that I don't trust my bank (otherwise why would I give them custodial privileges of my hard earned dollars) but I just trust myself a little more. It's also a good way to find bookkeeping mistakes, forgotten debits and credits.
The only problem is that it's such a pain in the rear end. It takes too long - @ least an hour. It's boring. And it's NEVER right on my first try (I like to balance it to the penny). That means I have to go back through the entire month's expenses to find out where something was incorrectly entered, a decimal was misplaced or bad handwriting led to an error. I hate it. On the rare occasion that it comes out exactly right on the first shot I have a "mini-celebration", happy checkbook dance around my house. Forgetting the fact that I still just wasted an hour of my time.
Maybe it's a small price to pay if I want to make sure I don't "bounce" a check - which we've done before. A long time ago my wife would keep the books but she wasn't as exact as I am and we overdrew our account. It was embarrassing and @ the time we had like no money so the overdraft fee was particularly painful.
Maybe I wouldn't have as much a problem if this wasn't such an "on-going chore". I do it every month and it seems like the time that passes from the previous balancing act gets shorter w/ each consecutive outing. I know it doesn't but it just seems that way. While I hate getting all of my tax stuff together I only have to do that once a year. By the time tax time rolls around the following year I've forgotten how much it stinks.
I ran out of things about which to complain a few paragraphs ago but now it's time to stop my procrastinating and get to work. The end of the month is upon us and I still have to pay my bills but I want to be "in balance" before I tackle that chore (another one I hate). To borrow a line from Snoop Doggy Dogg "I've got my mind on my money and my money on my mind." Hopefully there's a "mini-celebration", happy checkbook dance in my immediate future.
I Had A Great Vacation
If you watch on a regular basis you probably know that I was out all last week. I worked all of the holidays and a couple of weekends in December so I had some time to burn. I figured what better way to do that then by taking a mid-Winter vacation.
I didn't go skiing and I'd love to say I went somewhere tropical but that just wouldn't be true. No, I went somewhere even colder and windier than here. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment - I had a blast, though.
Whether you call it the Windy City, Chi-town or even the Second City Chicago is my kind of town. I haven't been since 2007 when I stopped in for a night on a layover and I'd forgotten how much fun it is. I think the thing I find so cool about it is the fact that it's almost "alive". There's always something going on or somebody's doing something. And it's got a great view of the water.
We went b/c we took the girls on a "mystery weekend". We hyped up the trip but didn't tell them where we were going... until the day before when my two oldest somehow tricked my wife into spilling the beans.
It was lots of fun playing "tourist". We went to the Chicago Art Institute which my kids enjoyed... but not as much as me. I hadn't been since the Monet exhibit in 1995 and the collection is better than I remember. They had works from a lot of my favorite artists and more than a few magnum opuses of some very popular artists. Seurat's "La Grande Jatte", Wood's "American Gothic" & Hopper's "Nighthawks" all come to mind - and that doesn't even scratch the surface.
We also caught a show @ the Adler Planetarium that explored the reaches of deep space. I've studied astronomy so I had an idea of the shear massiveness of the universe but the feature we saw really drove the point home. Not only was it cool but it sure made the everyday problems in life seem small if not insignificant - it made me feel that way as well but that can happen when you contemplate such things.
We also hit up the Museum of Science & Industry which is great for kids (big & small) and even visited the Willis Tower. Formally known as the Sears Tower it was @ one time the tallest building in the world. I went once when I was in grade school and this time back liked the addition of the skyboxes. Those are basically plexiglass boxes that jut out from the side of the building. If you step into one you get the chance to look 103 floors down. And even though logic tells you that you're safe a small part of you can't help but pray that this feat of engineering doesn't fail... @ least not while you standing on it. I freaked out my kids when I told them that every 1000th person is subject to a secret "trap door". I don't think the people standing in the skybox @ the time liked my joke either.
And what would a trip to Chicago be w/out the style of pizza that bears the town's name? We went to Gino's East and got a pie - and that's not an exaggeration. The crust was flaky like a pie crust. Fantastic.
Yes, we had a lot of fun. If you haven't been I suggest you go. But if you do be prepared to pay for parking... and it's expensive. While there we were able to stay w/ my uncle but we did get a hotel room one night and as we drove around looking for a lot we just decided to valet park; big mistake. I'm embarrassed to tell you how much it cost to park... but I will: $58.
No, that's not a typo it was almost 60 bucks... for one night!!! I couldn't believe it. We don't dine out much but when we do I can spend less... to feed a family of five! Luckily we got a good deal on the hotel so it was a wash but I can't help but wish that the price of parking would've been factored in b/c my life would be better off if I didn't know how much I spent to leave my car somewhere overnight.
Oh well, @ least I got a good story out of it. I also took a page from the lesson I learned @ the planetarium. In the big scheme, expensive parking doesn't really matter all that much. And even though it still stings a week later it doesn't bother me quite as much as it did @ the time.
Click here to visit my Facebook page if you want to see some photos.
State Of The Weather/Station
In honor of the State of the Union address it's now time for the "State of the Weather/Station" address.
As far as the "State of the Weather" goes:
Simply put, it's cold. It's awful outside right now and not only is the temperature on the wrong side of zero (and history in my opinion) the wind chill is even worse. Such evil forces pose a threat to the freedom that makes living in the Miami Valley so great. No, w/ temps like these we find ourselves locked in the prison that's simply known as "cabin fever". These are the things that threaten the very outdoor enjoyment we all crave during the long, cold winter.
But that's the beauty of weather. When all seems lost and the depressing darkness of Winter takes hold we only need remind ourselves that brighter days are ahead. That's right, in a few short days we'll be back into the upper 30s. Sure those temps will be accompanied by a nasty, wintry mix but upper 30s and mixed precipitation are better than the cold, dry awfulness that leads to readings of 13 below 0.
And better than that Spring is right around the corner so brighter days are truly on the horizon. March 20th may seem like an eternity from now but 51 days will have passed before you know it and Spring will arrive faster than the winning pig of a greased hog race @ the county fair.
And now for the "State of the Station":
In 2014 I promise to make a forecast five times a week on average. I promise to track severe weather as often as I can when it's in the Miami Valley (sometimes I may be on vacation or out of town so I can't guarantee I'll cover it every time it's here). I promise to track good weather and I promise to track bad weather. 2014 will see me predicting cold air, hot air and that oh so enjoyable middle ground of which we never seem to get enough.
I'll be here chronicling four distinct seasons in 2014. From the depths of Winter to the near-perfect Fall conditions I'll be around to tell you when things will change and what you'll need to wear. I'd love to say that I'll get it right 100% of the time but from to time the chaotic nature of weather will win out. Thankfully we'll get it right way more often than not (sadly, no one remembers when you get it right, though).
So to summarize it feels awful right now but the good new is that it'll warm up before you know it. No, we're not done w/ the cold weather yet... but we will be. And we'll also see thunderstorms and heat in the coming months as well as some picture perfect weather every so often. And through it all, we'll be here to cover it. God bless you & God bless America.
Go Home Old Man Winter!!!
I'm just getting back from vacation and WOW! it's cold. Scratch that, it's hatefully cold. Another arctic blast has taken hold in the Miami Valley and while it doesn't look like we'll remain below 0 for as long as we did w/ the blast in early January it's still going to be bad.
A sharp trough in the jet stream has allowed this most recent blast of arctic air and thankfully this event won't last too long (but longer than most of us would like).
Lows will drop to around -10 on Tuesday morning (just shy of the record of -13). But the bigger story will be the brutal wind chill values. It'll feel closer to -25 to -35 on Tuesday morning with the lower values in the North (along & N of U.S. 36) where the winds will be a little stronger. Highs will "soar" to about 4 on Tuesday and our wind chill values will struggle to reach -10 during the afternoon hours. There's only one word for this type of weather: awful. Let me rephrase that, there's only one word that I can repeat when talking about this type of weather ;)
By Wednesday morning we'll see lows near -8 but w/ the winds it'll feel closer to about -20 to -30 across the area. Again, the lower wind chill values will be in the north. By Wednesday afternoon we're looking @ highs in the mid-teens. That's not great but we're moving in the right direction if you ask me.
On Thursday the arctic high responsible for this awful weather will be pushing off to the east which means we'll see the "return flow" and winds will begin to push in from the southwest. Expect warmer weather as a result. We'll only hit about 30 on Thursday but considering what we'll see in the interim I'll take it.
By Friday our next weather maker begins to make a run @ the Buckeye State. We'll see the chance for snow as we head towards the end of the week. There's still time for this part of the forecast to change as we're still a few days out but right now I think we'll see the chance for an accumulating snow and possibly a wintry mix @ times on Friday. Saturday we'll see a better chance for a wintry mix as we climb into the mid-30s.
Sunday & Monday are looking to be a little more quiet but still cooler than average with highs in the upper 20s & low 30s. I can't remember the last time I looked forward to 30 degrees. Scratch that, it was back in early January. March 20th (the first day of Spring) can't get here soon enough.
I usually wait until sometime near the end of my work day to blog. While my job doesn't require 100% from me all the time (unless that's only on severe weather days) I still have certain things I need to finish before I can play "syndicated columnist". Seeing that I get paid to talk about the weather I figure it's probably best to finish my actual job before moving onto another love of mine: incessantly complaining about the mundane stuff that bothers me on a near daily basis.
The only time I ever get to writing early in the day is when I have a really good idea and I don't want to forget it. Unfortunately this doesn't happen all that often (the good idea part, I've forgotten plenty of stinkers) so I find myself pushing my deadline back whilst I come up w/ something witty & clever.
This got me thinking, though. When I was younger I could come up w/ something inane yet amusing to talk about on a whim. Now that I'm older that's not so much the case anymore. I could write this off as proof that I'm "growing", yet another example of the my ongoing maturation. But sadly that would be a lie. No, it's something different; and I think I just figured it out.
It's not that I'm getting older (even though I am) I'm just getting progressively more boring. When I was younger something interesting seemed to happen to me multiple times a day. More than once I ended up in a strange city miles away from Athens, Oh - not b/c I had to be there but just because. Or maybe I'd end up meeting some strangers from a different country and stay up half the night talking w/ them. And then there were the times I had to help raise bail money b/c one of my friends got a little too crazy uptown.
Yep, there was a point in my life that was rarely, if ever, punctuated by a dull moment. Now that I'm creeping up on 40 things like this no longer happen to me. Nope, my days are typically spent closer to home. Usually I only leave the house to go to the gym, pick up something @ the store or head to work. Regrettably these are not the ingredients that flavor an "epic" moment.
This may sound depressing but I have to say my slow slide to boredom does have some upsides. For one thing I'm a lot more clear-headed... due to lack of distraction. I also deliberate more than I used too and weigh the consequences of my actions - sometimes to a fault. But more than that I don't think I could keep up w/ my younger self if given the chance... that guy was crazy!
So I guess I'll continue to quietly log the days, put money away for retirement and think about things like yield curves and the high cost of long-term care. I'll still get headaches but this time for different reasons (like trying to understand yield curves and contemplating how much long-term care will actually cost). But one of these days something truly exciting will happen to me. It's got too, the law of averages dictates it. Ironically when it finally does I probably won't be able to write about it - @ least not in this forum.
Dark Your Autofocus!!!
People have long lamented that technological advances, no matter how helpful, ultimately erode our skills in certain areas. Some have gone as far as to say technology actually makes us stupid. After all if you have spell check what's the point of learning to spell? If you can just look up random facts on your smart phone do you really need to master the rote memorization that plagued you in school as a child?
While I see the logic in these arguments I can't help but think some of the fears are a little unfounded. I've been using spell check for longer than I'd like to admit and I'm still a pretty good speller. Admittedly when I misspell something in my blog there's a little squiggly red line under the word in question but I don't need it all that often. Full disclosure: it showed up twice in the previous sentence (the first & fourth words) but that's the first time I've needed it tonight. I've also been using the internet for ages and I still do a great job recalling worthless facts/trivia (maybe it's b/c I watch Jeopardy! every night). No matter what's behind this success the bottom line is that the technology I've been using hasn't made me any dumber than I would be if left to my own devices.
There's one development that @ the very least makes me look less intelligent. It's called "auto-correct". It's supposed to save time but ironically it ends up wasting more of mine.
I can't stand it. It's one thing to have to update something on my tablet - I've got to "hunt & peck" w/ my thumbs. But when every other word has an option to "auto-correct" it's only a matter of time before I'm deleting status updates or texts b/c nobody really needs to know that "I'm tipping one my i padlock". Sorry, typing on my Ipad.
I want to know what's the point of having it in the first place? Sure, I can see some of the benefits but if the automation isn't perfected - and it's obviously not - there's no point in releasing it to the public (BTW, if you're not paying attention that last word could end up w/ out the "l" - I've seen it so be careful).
Not just that but it seems like a sad commentary on society that we suffer so severely from attention deficit disorder that we can't even take the time to finish typing a full a word. It's bad enough that texting is full of grammatically incorrect shorthand (ex: "I H8 2 b bord") but now we can't even finish the words we're typing w/out help. I don't even want to know what this will look like when we finally master "thought-based" computing.
And so I have this to say: "I hate auto-correct it makes me unhappy". Unfortunately when I went to send this message out to the world all I could muster was: "I hate autofocus it am es me in happy"
I've said it before and I'm not embarrassed to repeat it: I've never met a cheese I didn't like. That includes Velveeta which some argue isn't even cheese in the first place. Technically it's processed cheese so that's good enough for me! I like it so much I once ate 46 slices of it on public access television in college. It was gross and if I recall I got sick but I was back eating it w/in a couple of hours - I didn't want to spoil my love for it so I "got back on the horse"
But that soft, smooth velvety goodness has gotten harder to come by in recent months. I know I shouldn't but I'm going to go ahead and editorialize in this matter. This is terrible!!! W/out Velveeta where will our grilled cheese sandwiches be? What will we use as a base for our chili con queso dips? And how bland will the new stunts of today's public access TV stars be? I shudder to think.
Turns out the laws of economics are leading to the scarcity. It's a simple lesson in supply and demand. This is a popular time of year for football parties. Guess what pairs perfectly w/ the sport. That's right... nacho cheese! Apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way which is why stores are working overtime to keep their shelves stocked w/ the rectangular yellow block that never seems to spoil - no matter how long it's been in your refrigerator.
What I don't understand is how Kraft couldn't have foreseen this. I'm sure they get a spike in sales this time every year. Were I the CEO of the the company I'd make darn sure there was more than enough to get through the cold months of peak cheese-buying season.
Some believe this is a marketing ploy but the company denies it. While I'm usually one who gives credence to conspiracy theories (except the moon landing, two people can keep a secret much less the thousands it'd take to pull off a fake lunar expedition) this is one that I'm just not buying. That's b/c the company would be stupid to leave money on the table when demand is @ it's greatest. Sure this will boost the profile of the product but I argue the price is too great.
So I'll be on the lookout for the stuff next time I'm @ the grocery store. I might even stock up so as to create a "yellow market" that will allow me to sell it @ an inflated price. If that doesn't work I guess I'll have to make dip out of old-fashioned block cheese if necessary this February. It's not ideal but it sounds better than the vegan nut cheese my wife tries to get me to eat every so often. That's scarier than a Superbowl w/ no nachos!
Your Weekly Forecast Discussion
We started out the workweek a little gloomy but it was mild; of course w/ the winds it didn't feel all that warm. But still, anytime we get into the low 50s in January I'm not complaining. That's about to change, though. Two cold fronts are coming through in teh next 24 hours. The first one arrives Monday night the next pushes through Tuesday evening.
That first cold front brought us the rain on Monday evening and the second one will bring us some rain on Tuesday. As cooler air filters in throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning we'll see some of that change over to light snow. Don't go planning your snow day just yet, though. We won't see much. We'll be lucky to get a dusting or so.
It'll cool off on Wednesday and we'll only top out in the upper 20s & low 30s. By Thursday we'll hit the mid-30s which is right around average for this time of year. Of course it'll be windy so it won't feel like we're in the mid-30s. It'll feel like were closer to the mid and upper-20s.
A dip in the jet stream will be the story as we head into the weekend. The jet is the river of fast-moving air high above our heads. It separates cold to the north from warm air to the south. As it dips over us colder air will take hold. By Friday we'll see off & on snow and only hit the upper 20s. It'll be even colder on Saturday w/ highs in the low to mid-20s. By the end of the weekend we're back @ or near freezing and we're right around 40 by the beginning of next week!
If You Love Something Set It Free
While I don't like it for extended periods of time - the jury is still out on what that means - I have to admit that sometimes there's nothing better than coming home to an empty house. I was greeted with one when I went on my dinner break. My wife had taken the kids down to Cincinnati to visit their grandparents so I enjoyed leftovers and watched television uninterrupted.
What's better than that is the fact that my wife & I have a hall pass from child-rearing this weekend. That's right, the kids didn't just visit the Queen City Friday evening but they're staying there for the next few days. It's great! I feel a little like a teenage boy on the last day of school just after the final bell has rung. That's right, I feel free!
Does that make me a bad parent? Who cares now my wife and I have a chance to relax, talk and maybe go out on a date. I can also sleep in until noon if I so choose. It's going to be awesome!
It's kind of funny. I've heard people talk about how great it would be to be young again. I don't really feel that way, I enjoy life and feel truly blessed. Having said that I wouldn't mind revisiting my youth for a few days but I think what I really miss is the utter lack of responsibility that came w/ that time in my life. That sense of apathy towards the future was definitely one of the best parts about being young. I think that's what made college so much fun: all of the privileges of being an adult but none of the responsibility that comes w/ it. I also went to Ohio University where it's hard not to have fun.
So in short this should be a great weekend. Maybe not as much fun as a weekend @ OU (or a Tuesday night for that matter) but I'm in my late 30s. I don't think I have much time for that nonsense anymore.
Of course now I'm starting to feel a little guilty that I'm so excited about a couple of childless days. After all they are good kids; I should cherish my time w/ them b/c soon enough they'll leave the nest to spread their wings as they fly off into the world. Nah. They just got finished w/ winter break (extended by two calamity days). That's a looooong time to be cooped up in the house w/ three kids.
The Ball Is In Your Court
I'll admit that I jumped on the Chicago Bulls bandwagon back in the 80s and 90s during the Michael Jordan era. I've never been a huge fan of basketball but that was fun to watch that team. I still remember Game 5 against the Jazz in 1997 when Jordan had the flu and came out playing one heck of a game - scoring close to 40 points & propelling his team to a win. Good times.
One player I liked on that team was Dennis Rodman. My cousin was a huge Detroit Pistons fan so I followed the Hall of Famer a little then but as he got older I paid more attention. He was a bit of a media darling as I was growing up which probably influenced my being a fan of his. But what I think what really sealed the deal was the fact that he dated or married Madonna, Vivica A. Fox & Carmen Electra; three of the most beautiful women in the world... all whilst I was in my late teens/early twenties. Regardless of what he did on the court that was something to which a young, impressionable man could aspire.
Having said that some of the "Rebound King's" recent actions have left me scratching my head. He's been over in North Korea hanging out w/ Kim Jong Un. Most recently he flew to the Hermit Kingdom celebrate his BFF's birthday w/ an exhibition game. While I'm not going to get into politics of all this (i.e. the country's history of human rights violations) this whole ordeal is beyond strange.
First off he sang "Happy Birthday" the despot. That's all well and good... if you sing it w/ a group of people and not as the center of attention in front of 10,000+ people. Click here to see that performance. You watch it? Yeah, it's weird. It might not be so bad but the performance has shades of Marilyn Monroe's rendition for JFK's 45th birthday in 1962. I have to say it's all a little creepy.
And worse than that Rodman's team reportedly lost the exhibition game they played. I'm sorry but I have a hard time believing this. Sure his team was a little older but @ the same time it was also comprised of former NBA players. These were some of the best athletes in the world @ one point. They're also fierce competitors - that's an instinct that's hard, if not impossible, to turn off. This sounds a little like the Generals beating the Globetrotters. I have a hard time believing they lost... unless it was on purpose.
Of course seeing that Kim Jong Un recently had his uncle killed for "half-heartedly clapping" & being "worse than a dog" maybe it was good that the team lost. And if the team did indeed throw the game... well that just adds insult to injury.
My Tie to the Huxtables
I don't know why this popped into my head but for some reason when I was driving back to work after my dinner break a memory I hadn't thought of in ages flooded back into my mind. It was about 11 years ago and I was working my first full-time gig in broadcasting @ WOAY in West Virginia.
I had a day off and my wife and I took our young daughter (now our oldest child) to one of the parks in the area. If you've never been it's a beautiful state and there are tons of natural attractions to enjoy if you have the time. I don't remember the park but I do remember the beautiful view.
As we were getting ready to leave we started talking to an older gentleman who lived around the corner and had made the drive to his nearby park to sit in his car and enjoy what nature had to offer. He was also enjoying an adult beverage, clearly breaking state law, but I digress.
Sitting on his lap was a small, well-groomed dog; a schnauzer I think. I don't know how it came about but he informed us that we were in the company of not just any old dog. No, this dog had a brush w/ fame - comedy royalty, if you will. Turns out this little purebred just happened to be the great-granddog of Bill Cosby. I don't know how he knew this but apparently Bill Cosby's dog sired a litter and one of those pups was the parent of this particular canine.
Admittedly part of me was a little skeptical. I mean seriously, what are the odds? But then I realized that this was an oddly specific claim to fame. Not only that but by this point Bill Cosby hadn't been in the spotlight for roughly a decade and if I was going to make up a fake back story on a pet I'd probably pick (like most others) a celebrity who was a little more topical - like Nicholas Cage or Tom Hanks.
Not just that but what would this stranger have to gain by spinning such a yarn? I'd already engaged him in conversation for a few minutes. Even if our chat was dying (I don't think it was) this would've been a weird way to revive it. Perhaps the person who originally sold the dog made up the whopper but again I'd have to argue that there are other celebrities one could tie the puppy to in order to make it more marketable.
I guess I'll never know but as far as I'm concerned I'm on close & personal speaking terms w/ Bill Cosby's great-granddog. I hope someday I can meet Rudy & Theo.
Colder Than A...
I've been off for a few days and all I can say is WOW! It's cold! You don't really need a meteorologist to tell you this but I'm happy to validate any hunches you may have concerning the matter.
By now just about everyone has heard of the "Polar Vortex". It's also known as the "Polar Low" and it's basically a large, persistent weather system that forms @ the top and bottom of the Earth due to the Coriolis effect. It's strongest in the winter but when the circulation weakens its flow becomes less zonal and more meridional. In essence that means it moves from a relatively flat pattern to a more elongated one which allows the jet stream to dive farther south and therefore lead to arctic outbreaks.
So you can thank that breakdown in the Polar Vortex for our recent deep freeze. W/ a low of -10 on Monday, Dayton saw the coldest temperatures it's seen since 1/16/2009 (we hit -14). But when we factor in the winds it's the coldest air we've seen in two decades; since January of 1994. Wind chill values of -30 to -40 were common but some spots felt like they were well below -40. Just to the ESE of Lewisburg in Preble county a wind chill value of -49 was registered.
Dayton also saw 28 straight hours of temperatures that didn't even get above 0. That's the longest stretch of sub-0 weather that we've seen since January 1994. From the 17 to the 20th of that year we didn't get above 0 for 60 hours straight! I remember that blast of cold air. I was in Columbus @ the time and it was awful!
So yes, it's been pretty frigid lately. The good news is that things are warming up as I type - in fact we're already back in the double digits. This warm-up will continue into the weekend w/ highs eventually getting into the mid-40s. I can't wait... I don't remember the last time I was so excited about 45 degrees. I just hope the next deep freeze waits another two decades before it takes hold. Heck, it can wait longer if it wants too.
Winter Storm Haiku Poems
It's been a busy day in the weather center and @ ABC22/Fox45 as a whole. Snow fell throughout the day and now it's turning bitterly cold. As a result of this crazy day I've decided to dedicate Thursday night's blog to the ancient art of haiku poetry. I feel that after a wild day this is just what I need to unwind. So here goes:
The snow has fallen
And now the winds are whipping
So grab your mittens.
It's slick on the roads.
So drive carefully as you
Finesse sheets of ice.
The winds and the cold
Have gotten me wondering
Where are my long johns?
Spring is seventy
Seven days away. My heart
Longs for March twenty.
It's cold and hateful.
My driveway's covered in white.
I'll stay by the fire.
My kids asked me to
Sled. I agreed if they gave
Me some hot chocolate.
The sky has turned gray.
But the ground is white. Which means
At least it's pretty.
Blowing snow and ice
Are big problems out across
The roads and sidewalks.
The latest storm hit
During Winter break. Sadly
That means no snow day.
Spring's far away. I'm thinking
It's vacation time.
So there you have it. Some haiku poems to help soothe any frayed nerves you may have after driving in this mess.
The Latest On Our Winter System
Well we're just a day into 2014 and we're already talking about our first snow storm of the year. It won't dump a ton of snow on us but enough that we'll have some issues. Couple that w/ the fact that colder air is working in and we've got the makings for what could be quite a mess.
Light snow is already beginning to work into the Miami Valley and it'll be picking up through the overnight hours. Forecast model and observational data suggests we'll have anywhere from about 1-3" across the area by daybreak with the highest totals in the north. Snow will continue to fall through the morning and early afternoon finally tapering off to flurries sometime in the mid-afternoon.
As this happens we'll watch the temperatures plummet and winds will begin to howl. This will lead to blowing and drifting snow and as temperatures drop below 20 by the commute home we'll have to watch out for any moisture that's still on the road b/c it'll have the potential to re-freeze. So in essence you'll have to watch out during both commutes on Thursday b/c slippery spots will be out there - especially along bridges/overpasses and along secondary and untreated roads.
By the time this event moves out of here I think the heart of the Miami Valley (Dayton, Kettering, Springfield, Eaton, Xenia, etc.) will see around 1.5" to 3.5". Areas near/along and north of U.S. 36 (Greenville, Piqua, Urbana, Sidney, Celina, Wapakoneta, Bellefontaine, etc.) will get about 3" to 5".
The tough part of this forecast is the fact that very cold air will be mixing in through the event. The colder it is the lighter/fluffier the snow - which means it piles up faster (it also means it's easier to shovel which makes my back happy). This skews the forecast snow totals upwards a bit. But when I see a pattern like this it's not uncommon for some drier air to mix into the mid-levels of the system which in turn cuts back a little on the snow totals.
So brace for snow, blowing snow and bitter cold by the end of the day on Thursday. We should see temperatures in the low teens by the Thursday evening and with the winds it'll feel more like we're below zero. By Friday morning we're near 5 which means that once again we'll have to watch for icy spots. Luckily we'll see more sun on Friday which should help to clear the roads but w/ highs in the teens untreated roads will once again turn very dangerous once the sun sets on Friday night.
If you think Friday sounds cold wait until next week. Our highs will struggle to get out of the single digits to start, won't even do that by Tuesday afternoon and see sub-0 temperatures (lows, NOT wind chill values) Tuesday & Wednesday mornings. Bundle up, it's about to get nasty!
Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!!!
It's New Year's Eve which means 2014 is almost here and for some what I've called the "holiday hangover" is about to set in. No I'm not suggesting that you stayed up to late and imbibed a little too much on December 31st. I'm pointing to the fact that the coming weeks are sometimes accompanied by a bout of the post-holiday blues.
Once summer comes to an end it seems like the year just goes into overdrive. The months accelerate to warp speed and before you know it's all over. The holidays have come and gone and the bitter cold of January looms like a shadow as the cold, dark months of early year take hold. It's not a big deal during the holidays but once they're over we're left w/ the harsh reality of mid-winter. That quick crescendo and eventual passing of the holidays can sometimes lead to the sadness that seems to arrive every January for some.
While I don't feel this way I have in the past. It always seemed like the big end-of-the-year celebration ended before it even seemed to start. Like the build-up was way more than the actual event. After what's seemingly an endless month-and-a-half of get togethers and parties it was January 2nd before I knew it. I'm sure part of that was related to the fact that I'd be back in school w/in a few days of the New Year - now I go to work everyday so I'm used to having somewhere to go.
But the more I think about it the period after the holidays should be anything but depressing. It's more or less a time to hit the "reset" button, re-assess yourlife and make positive changes. It's kind of like the writer's blank page or the artist's bare canvas. However you want to fill the coming year is pretty much up to you. And just like the page or the canvas the possibilities in front you are limitless. You can write a classic or paint a masterpiece... if you're willing to put in the time necessary to do so.
So here's to hoping 2014 is the best year ever! I hope you've had a great 2013, a wonderful holiday season and wish 2014 is even better. I'd love to stay and chat but I've got a book to start ;)
This Is "Bowl"
While I love to play games I've never been much of a gambler. I've only left the country once. I was in college and my roommate and I drove up to Windsor to go to the casino. I lost $80 and learned why I hate games of chance. Now that I'm older I joke that I already have enough vices and don't need another... especially one that has the potential to be so expensive.
Having said that I am involved in a pool that's tied to the college bowl games. I only threw in five bucks - and right now I'm happy about that. That's b/c out of the 10 games that have been played so far I haven't picked one winner. That's right... not a one. That means that with 29% of the games played I have yet to record one point in my column. That's not good.
And to add insult to injury the team I picked in the game that's going on right now is losing... by a touchdown. It's ridiculous.
I'm usually pretty good @ picking college football games. I entered a weekly Big 10 pool a few years ago, won it a couple of times and was in the top three just about every week. In my defense I didn't watch as much college football this season as I normally do but I still caught quite a few games. I even went w/ the Vegas picks if I didn't know anything about the match up - which is pretty much par for the course this early in the bowl season.
I'm not going to blame this on bad luck or even on my lack of knowledge in the subject (even though I should). No, I think this is the fault of having so many bowl games. It seems like just about any product you can think of is represented. There's even one named after a website and another that got its title in the name of social justice.
Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that there's this much college football in the postseason. I'm not of the belief that this waters down the action either. If anything it gives more exposure to the sport and helps some teams get national attention when they otherwise wouldn't. It also makes it very tough correctly peer into crystal ball of collegiate sports and @ this point I kind of wish I would've just burned that five bucks I put into the pool; @ least then I'd have a good story backing what I did w/ it (even though I might be breaking a law).
We talked about giving whoever got last in the pool their money back. Put that's not an accolade I really want. It's sort of like a consolation prize of shame. Having said that I'd take it if I missed all 35 games. I'd argue that's harder than getting all of them right. For that I would deserve an award - no matter how dubious.
Hope You Had A Great Holiday
Once again Christmas has come and gone and once again it seems to have slipped through our fingers in the matter of just a few days. It always takes its time getting here until about a week out. Then all bets are off, it's Christmas Eve and I'm rushing to finish my shopping. This year was no different.
I hope you had a great Christmas holiday. Mine was fun. I had to work but I also got to spend time w/ my family. My mom & aunt came into town and we had a nice morning opening presents and eating a delicious breakfast. Then I got my post-meal Christmas nap - that's always a splendid part of the day.
But Now it's Boxing Day. Soon it'll be New Year's Day and then it's time for something I like to call the "holiday hangover". I'll get to that in just a second but first a little about "Boxing Day". I used to think it was called that b/c we would take all of the boxes our toys came in out to the garbage the day after Christmas (or @ least we usually would). Turns out I was wrong. As I understand it workers for the aristocracy in Britain would give their servants a "Christmas box" the day after the holiday - sort of like a holiday bonus.
As for the "holiday hangover", I don't call it that b/c everybody goes out and parties too hard on New Year's Eve. I call it that b/c there's always such a big build up to the end-of-the-year holidays that it can be a little sad when things are all finished. After getting a few days off @ Thanksgiving then more @ Christmas and New Year's Day it's time to get back to work... in the cold of January. And most of us have no holidays in sight until Memorial Day.
That's why I try to take a little time off in late January every year. For one thing it's right around the statistically coldest temperatures of they year (and I can go somewhere warm if I want) but it also gives me something for which to look forward. But I'm not going to let the end of the holidays bum me out b/c so far they've been quite nice. Hopefully things so far this season have gone well w/ you and your family as well. Merry Christmas!!! (A day late - don't "box me out" for that, though).
A Christmas Poem - Part Deux
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the station
Our wandering minds thought of vacation.
I sat in the studio and broke down the weather
To my desk & computer I found myself tethered.
I looked @ maps, models & q-vectors galore
So you'd know what you'd see when you stepped out the door.
When before my eyes popped a glorious sight
Santa was here... he was out for the night.
He said he'd stopped by, for his annual visit
With wonderful news. I asked him, "What is it?"
He spoke of a warm-up - here by the weekend
When I'd run into family... along w/ a few friends.
I said, "That's great! B/c right now it's cold."
He then talked of something worth much more than gold.
Those close to me, my girls that I love
Were truly a gift from the creator above.
The ones close to me, they make life worth while
And more often than not make my lip curl in smile.
I'll admit I was hooked as I processed his pitch.
For I knew was right; family & friends make me rich.
It's honestly not what's in my bank account.
And that's a good thing... as bills continue to mount.
That should be our focus, and no I'm not rusing
Or this time of year's meaning we'll find ourselves losing.
It sort of reminds me of a great Christmas flick
One of the best movies ever a bonafide classic.
It's A Wonderful Life - I watch every year.
And by the last scene I'm shedding a tear.
George Bailey's the lead, it tells the man's tale.
His life in Bedford Falls had seemed to grow stale.
But fate intervened, in the form of an angel.
He gave the protagonist quite the hard sell.
He showed George just how great life can be
When it has a purpose and you can touch many.
And @ the film's climax we learn as it ends
That "no man is a failure who has friends."
I knew Santa's meaning; found life's cherry topping.
Then gave him a hug and thanked him for stopping.
So from Santa and I, hold the one's you love tight.
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
Your Christmas Week Forecast
After getting a brief hiatus from the frigid weather Old Man Winter is making a comeback. Another arctic air mass is taking over as I type these words.
That air mass will be dragging down colder air as we're on the front side of an arctic high. W/ winds out of the NW we'll see frigid air through Tuesday. Not only will we struggle to get into the low 20s but wind chill values will be near if not below zero to start the day on Tuesday and remain in the single digits and then the low teens into the afternoon.
A clipper system will be moving by to the north on Christmas. Winds will shift a little southerly and bring us a little warm-up and we'll get back to freezing. We'll also see the chance for a little light snow as it passes by Christmas afternoon. Right now it looks like the best chance for that action will be in the north and even though we're not expecting an inch (the threshold needed for a White Christmas) it'll still be nice to see a little snow on the holiday.
Friday will be partly cloudy and we'll climb to near freezing before a warm-up starts to take hold.
As an area of high pressure moves to the east we'll watch our winds take a more southerly bend which will usher in "mild" air. By Saturday afternoon we're in the upper 30s if not flirting w/ 40. This won't last long b/c another system is sliding in by Sunday afternoon/evening. That will bring us the chance for more snow late Sunday and much colder weather by Monday as we top out in the low to mid-20s.
I'll admit that a large part of me would love to see a White Christmas. An even larger part of me is upset that we've had one of the top 10 snowiest Decembers and after the weekend warm-up and torrential rain we now have no snow on the ground - figures. But being the optimist that I am I can say that if you're driving on Tuesday you shouldn't see weather-related issues on the roads. The other bright side in all of this is the fact that I'll get to spend some time w/ my family on Christmas and that's what the holidays are all about.
Expect A WET Weekend
The rain is already falling in parts of the Miami Valley and it's going to get worse before it gets any better.
A boundary will set up over the region this weekend. That will act as a moisture transport through Saturday and into Sunday morning. Rain will be moderate and then heavy and right now it looks like the heaviest rain will fall in the Miami Valley from about 6:00 or 7:00 P.M. Saturday to about 6:00 or 7:00 A.M. Sunday.
I think the bulk of the Miami Valley will see about 1.5"-3" of rain through Sunday. Dayton, Xenia, Springfield & Piqua will see about 2"-3" while the far southeast will see a little less. In the far northwest (Greenville, Celina, Wapakoneta, Anna, etc.) we'll have the potential to pick up a little more than three inches of rain by the time this event rolls out of here Sunday morning. This is why we have a flood threat.
It looks like this will start out with flooding in low-lying areas and flood-prone basements. Then as the water has a chance to runoff into the rivers and streams we'll have to watch for problems in those areas. Minor flooding is expected along much of the Great Miami from Sidney to Dayton.
It looks like that threat will be in place in Troy and Sidney beginning @ 6:00 P.M. Saturday with flood waters cresting around or shortly after 6:00 P.M. Sunday. We'll see flood waters crest in the Dayton area (especially near Huber Heights) Monday morning around 6:00 or 7:00 A.M.
The Great Miami River near Miamisburg will reach moderate flood stage around dinner time on Sunday and crest Monday morning just before daybreak.
Remember, flooding is a major killer in the United States so don't discount the threat over the weekend. Two feet of water will float most cars and six inches of moving water will knock you off your feet. If you see water of unknown depth avoid it and adopt the National Weather Service's motto: "Turn around, don't drown."
Temps will fall through Sunday afternoon and it'll be cold by day's end with another blast of frigid weather next week. That means this rain and warmth has come just in time to melt our snow and then it'll turn cold in time for a Christmas that won't be white.
Am I The Only One Left Who Understands What "Right-Of-Way" Means?
I've said it before and I can't say it enough: I hate paying too much for gas. It's expensive, I need it to get around and the price always seems to spike when I need it most.
You can only imagine my frustration when I was driving around Thursday morning only to see that a gallon of gas had jumped to $3.29/gallon overnight. Honestly, it could always be worse seeing that we have a major holiday next week. But when I saw it for $2.89/gallon on Wednesday I got mad... especially b/c we have a major holiday next week. I know gas is a commodity whose price is determined by the laws of supply and demand but I hate the fact that gas goes up every major holiday. Again, I know that economics is @ play here but I still feel like I'm being gouged.
I was thrilled when I drove into work and saw gas was still $2.93/gallon @ a station right around the corner from ABC22/Fox45. I didn't need it just yet but when it's 36 cents more across the street you've got to take advantage of that deal. And that gets me to the true point of this... piece (I was going to call it a "rant" but it isn't one... yet).
I left the station on a break to fill up and was pleased that the price hadn't gone up. But there was also a huge line and a full parking lot - the exact opposite of what was going on across the street. I even questioned why there were any cars @ all filling up @ that station. It was selling petroleum for $3.29/gallon.
I sat and waited and was just about to pull into the parking lot when I noticed someone was turning left to get to the same place I was headed. She was draped across the two lanes of traffic going in my direction and was trying to weasel her way in front of me. She didn't have the "right-of-way" and people who assume they have it and act on that false assumption are one of my major pet peeves.
So I didn't let her in but that didn't stop her. She continued w/ her pursuit and finally let up @ the last second but not before showing me a choice finger (it wasn't her index). I was flabbergasted. Here this lady was mad @ me (and probably cursing me) b/c I wouldn't let her in in front of me when I'd been waiting longer than she had. And even if that wasn't the case I still had the right-of-way and wasn't in the wrong.
I never told this lady to pull across two lanes of traffic while the people she was blocking sat backed up @ a light. And I certainly didn't ask her to show me that offensive finger. I just wanted to get to the open pump for which I'd been waiting.
I think what upsets me the most is the fact that the lady in question doesn't feel like she did anything wrong. As far as she's concerned I'm just "that jerk meteorologist" who didn't let her break the law. I'm also upset b/c part of me feels like I should've just let her go seeing that it's the Christmas season and that's probably what the almighty would want. But @ the same time I'd waited for my turn and was just following the rules which I think is a pious endeavor in and of itself.
Of course now that I think about it I realize that what I should really be doing is letting this go, forgive and forget about the event entirely. So that's what I'll do.
I can tell you one thing, though. I now understand why people were more than happy to pay the inflated price across the street. The stress-filled afternoon through which I just lived (set off by the above incident) was definitely not worth the $2.59 I saved by going to the station w/ the better price.
Solving A "Stone Cold" Crime
Remember The Flintstones? I used to "meet" them everyday after school in syndication on one of the local television stations in my hometown of Columbus. Looking back on the cartoon I see that it was a total ripoff of The Honeymooners but I still thought it was pretty good and think it's stood the test of time pretty well.
Because they were "the modern Stone Age family" I think it's safe to say that police in Sacramento are now hoping to solve a modern Stone Age mystery. Dave Downey, owner of World's Best Comics, recently had his replica of the "Flintmobile" stolen by some stone-hearted crooks. The car sat out in front of his comic book store and was beloved by his customers, especially kids.
I don't know how somebody steals such an item. An open-topped four seater rolling down the main drag in California's capital is sure to turn a few heads. And if it wasn't the getaway car it's still a life-sized copy of a vehicle that's immortalized in the catchy song from a classic TV program; loading that onto the back of a truck would have to raise a few red flags.
And what do you do w/ such an item? It weighs 200 pounds and it's pretty bulky. It's not like you can get it into your basement and turn it the highlight of your man cave. Even if you could this is the type of "one-of-a-kind" item that's kind of hard to explain. What are the odds that two people have giant prehistoric cartoon cars... one of which showed up just days after another highly publicized one disappeared? I can't answer that question beyond saying that they're not good.
I guess the good news is that it shouldn't be hard to catch the crooks. For one thing this item is pretty hot and will be tough to unload. Not only that but once a few suspects show up all police have to do is look @ their feet to figure out who did it. Seeing that the famous car was powered by a running Fred Flintstone I'd have to think that the crooks would have some major callouses on the bottoms of their feet.
All kidding aside I do hope someone returns Downey's car. He's even offering a reward: "a six-pack of Cactus Cooler", Fred Flintstone's favorite drink on the famed show. If you ask me that's not bad - of course I'd rather have the giant steak that causes the Flintmobile to tip over in the opening credits.
What Could Have Been The "Mistake Of The Year"
Time's "Person of the Year" has been decided and if you don't know who it is it's Pope Francis. I read the article about him Tuesday afternoon and it was very good. I don't know why but it seems like there's always controversy whenever this award is given out. I'm not going to get into a debate as to who should have gotten the honor but I will sound off on who should not have gotten it.
Miley Cyrus. Apparently she was in the running. Let me repeat that: Miley Cyrus was in the running. Yeah, it's just as unbelievable when you read it a second time. Reports say the singer was leading Time Magazine's Online Reader Poll as late as Thanksgiving.
I'm sorry but that's pretty sad. I understand that she's influential in the entertainment world but I have a hard time believing that she carries much clout in the actual world. Had she gotten the title that would in essence affirm the notion that the pop star was more prominent than Edward Snowden, the President and even the Pope in 2013. Sorry, she wasn't. This would further suggest that had either of those three "twerked" their importance would have skyrocketed through the roof. I don't see any of them doing that anytime soon; maybe break dancing... but not twerking.
Not to sound like an old person but this a sad indictment as to where we are culturally as a people. I saw the Video Music Awards performance and was appalled. That lasted for a few seconds. Then I felt a little sorry for the former teen idol; it looked like she was trying too hard. Almost as if she was doing everything she could to hang onto whatever fame she still had. She reminded me of the child who's grown out of the "adorable" phase and was acting out in classic "hey look @ me!" fashion... and she's still a kid herself ! (Only 20 @ the time of that infamous performance).
And I shudder to think about what her winning the prize would've said to the youth of the world. Probably something along the lines of, "If you act like a skank you'll get on the cover of a magazine that you don't need to be 18 to buy!" I'm glad that wasn't the moral of the story.
I guess @ the end of the day if Cyrus had won then it probably would've goosed sales for the issue. Of course I can't help but wonder if it would've also hit the magazine's subscription numbers like a "Wrecking Ball". I know I would've dropped mine if she'd graced the cover of my latest Time.
Your Forecast For The Week
Our workweek started out pretty slippery as about an inch or so of snow coated the area just in time for the morning commute. Not only that but it was below 20 which is when salt isn't as effective @ keeping the roads clear. As a result we saw a thin layer of ice in some spots and a little light snow on top of it. That's always a recipe for disaster in the Miami Valley.
As we head into the next few days we'll see more light snow on Tuesday afternoon.
A disturbance known as a shortwave trough will swing through the area providing just enough lift to provide some snow just in time for Tuesday evening's commute. We'll also see windy conditions @ the surface which means blowing snow will be an issue and that could lead to some problems as you drive home Tuesday evening.
Wednesday a ridge of high pressure is moving through and that will bring more sunshine to the area. We'll also see highs in the mid-30s and with the sun it should feel A LOT better than it has as of late.
By Thursday our high is drifting east and we'll bask in the "return flow" which means our winds will take a more southerly bend. As they blow in from the SW we'll see warmer weather and should touch the mid-40s Thursday afternoon. We'll also watch clouds increase through the day and could see a shower or two by day's end.
There's a better chance for rain on Friday and those rain chances continue into the weekend as a boundary stalls out over us. That will act as a moisture transport that will dump rain on us Saturday and Sunday before changing over to a wintry mix Sunday night. The sun returns Monday but it'll be cold.
I'm not really wild about this forecast. I like the snow - not wild about the cold, but love the snow. More than that I love snow on Christmas. We've had a snowy December thus far (right now the 7th snowiest on record). One would think that would give us a decent shot @ 1" of snow on the ground on December 25 (the definition of a White Christmas). Right now the chances of that aren't looking that great. The warm-up will melt some of the snow and whatever is sticking around late in the week will melt once the rain hits - we could also see some minor flooding issues this weekend.
The good news is that when we talk about extended forecasts there's a lot of uncertainty that's factored into the equation... especially in the winter when things can change pretty rapidly. That's what I'm hoping for right about now b/c I want a White Christmas - and I'm not talking about Bing Crosby's holiday classic, even though I'll settle for it. Fingers crossed.
Tracking Our Next Winter Storm
We've already gotten almost 8" of snow in the month of December and our next winter system is already here. As I type this flakes are flying across the Miami Valley and it's tough to see the Dayton city skyline.
Snow will fall through the overnight hours and a couple of inches are possible by daybreak. Snow will continue through the day but @ times we'll see a little bit of a wintry mix. And that's what's made this a tough forecast. Right now it looks like the rain/snow line will be somewhere around I-70 and US 35 which means it'll straddle the heart of the Miami Valley.
Having said that here's my forecast for the upcoming event:
Snow will fall through the night and we'll see a wintry mix starting to work in sometime around 10:00 or 11:00 A.M. in Butler, Warren & Clinton counties. By about 2:00 to 6:00 P.M. we'll have a wintry mix around and south of I-70 w/ all snow north of it and a little rain mixing in throughout the southern halves of Butler, Warren & Clinton counties. After that things will turn over to all snow and taper off through Saturday evening.
My snowfall forecast reflects the different types of wintry precipitation.
Obviously where we see a little more of a wintry mix or even rain (south of I-70) our snow totals will be a little lighter. Areas in the north will see snow throughout the event so that's why 4-6" (w/ a few isolated higher totals) are expected up in that area.
This is going to be a heavy, wet snow. That means it'll have a higher moisture content. This is good news for the kids and their snow forts, snowball fights, snowmen, etc. It's bad news for your back if you have to shovel, though so be careful.
As I mentioned earlier we've already gotten almost 8" of snow this month - @ the airport, where the climate records are kept. In a typical December we see 4.5". That means we'll be close to tripling our average December by the end of this event. Have fun and again be careful!
How Cold Is It?
The big chill has taken hold in the Miami Valley. If you've been lucky enough to stay indoors and avoid it just take my word for it. And even though it sounds like something the audience would yell to a comedian in the middle of his show to set up a punchline I'm happy to answer the question: "How Cold Is It?"
Thursday's high in Dayton only climbed up to the 20 degree mark. So to answer the above question in two words, it's freezing. Actually it's well below freezing but you get the picture. Let me put this cold into perspective.
Thursday's high of 20 in Dayton means it was warmer in Denver, Colorado; Casper, Wyoming; Billings, Montana; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and even Juneau, Alaska. Pretty crazy. So what the heck is happening?
To answer that question we need to look high into the atmosphere @ the jet stream. That's the river of fast moving air that separates cold air to the north from warm air to the south. The "dip" in the jet stream over the Eastern United States is known as a trough. When a trough works over your area colder air is allowed to spill into the region. That's what's behind our latest cool down.
But that's only the half of it. It has also been a little windy. As a result our wind chill values (what it feels like outside) have dipped below zero @ times and we spent most of our waking hours w/ single digit wind chills. And when temperatures get this cold it doesn't take much of a wind to really drive down that wind chill.
And that gets me to this graphic: Thursday's lows. You're reading correctly. Most of us woke up near (if not below) zero. But w/ the wind chill if felt closer to -5 to -12. W/ a low of 1 in Dayton (where the climate records are kept) we didn't set a record. But we did see the lowest temperature in the area in nearly three years. Way back on 2/10/2011 we started out @ -3. Our low of 1 was the coldest reading since that frigid day (1036 days ago).
The best way to describe this weather is w/ the word "awful" b/c that's how it feels. The good news is that it'll be "warmer" on Friday as we climb back to the freezing mark. The bad news is that we're tracking another winter system that will bring snow Friday night through Saturday evening. Out behind that we'll see another blast of frigid air.
Friday night I'll break down the coming winter storm in this forum. Until then I'm going to enjoy the indoors and cuddle up next to the fire when I'm lucky enough to spend some time @ my house.
Tied Up With Savings
I can't say that shopping has ever been a high priority in my life. As a kid I can remember being physically sick when I'd go w/ my mom or someone else in my family to the department store. I would actually feel hot and uncomfortable if forced to stay in the clothes section for too long. Looking back it was probably anxiety - a byproduct of ADHD. It also explains why I was allowed to go to the toy section once I reached a certain age; if shopping was going to be an unpleasant experience for whatever grownup I was with it's better that it be bad after we left the store (when I didn't get some toy I wanted) than during the actual deal-hunting.
As an adult I've learned to be efficient whenever I go to the mall. I typically walk in w/ an idea of what I want, find it, pay and leave. Maybe it's due to bad shopping memories as a kid or perhaps it's the result of being a man - i.e. hunter/gatherer who can't multi-task. All I know is that I enjoy the practice much more now than I did as a child. And that's a good thing b/c one of the unwritten rules of my job is that I have to dress up for work. I'm sure I could look like a slob but something tells me that my bosses wouldn't tolerate it and if I consistently showed up wearing a T-shirt w/ a mustard stain, cut-off shorts and a pair of Birkenstocks I'm pretty sure I'd get in trouble.
So recently I went down to the outlet mall in Monroe and picked up some new ties as I was in need of them. It might not seem like a big deal but it was. I walked into a store and saw ties were only like 10 bucks apiece - and these were nice ties. So I went down the line and picked out a bunch. As a result I've been enjoying "New Tie Week" for the past two weeks and it's been great!
I never really fancied myself as much of a person who derives pleasure from material things but I've got to admit the cache of ties I bought a few weekends ago has put quite the smile on my face. I don't know what it is but I'll admit that right now I understand the giddiness that comes w/ my wife's purchase of a new pair of shoes a little better. So yes, I've gotten to the point where a piece of neck wear has the ability to make me happy. I never thought I'd get here but who knew?
I could joke that if God gives you a Rembrandt it's your responsibility to give it a nice frame. Or cite the old adage that clothes make the man. But I think it's much simpler than that. Sure I like the new ties but I think what I like more than that is the fact that I got such a good deal. Honestly, that's usually the only thing that makes shopping fun.
I'm a bit of a wheeler-dealer and hate paying retail... for anything. I'm the guy who goes to a garage sale/flea market/etc., barters w/ the vendors and then feels good knowing he's walked away w/ a 40% discount - even if he doesn't need what he just bought. Luckily I don't have expensive tastes or this could be a dangerous thrill. I've even tried to talk the price down @ major retail outlets where the prices are pretty much set in stone. I figure the worst anyone can do is say no so it's worth a shot. I know this habit has embarrassed my wife in the past - that is until I score us a killer deal - but she's really come around. Now clips coupons and finds the hot deals whenever she goes to the store.
But as I type this "New Tie (Two) Week(s)" is coming to an end. I'm not sad but after writing this blog I have learned something about myself: I'm cheap, maybe frugal is a better word. No matter how you put it I guess I just like to save money. But hey, when you've got three daughters - and three weddings for which to pay - you've got to save every penny you can.
This Bugs Me
I just got wind of quite possibly the worst news I've heard in a long time. A new cockroach has made its way to the United States. I know it sounds gross but it's waaaaaay worse than that. The species, native to Asia, is quite resilient.
According to a study it can live through the cold winter months and was recently seen crawling around an outdoor tourist attraction in New York City. The metropolis is notorious for brutal winters and experts say they'll be no problem for this bug. The roach, Periplaneta japonica, was actually spotted last year but wasn't confirmed in the city until recently. No one knows how it got here they just know it's arrived.
I don't know about you but I think this is terrible. I hate roaches. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of bugs in general but roaches are particularly nasty if you ask me. They're dirty, tough to kill and perhaps worst of all numerous.
They were all over the place in Hawaii and even though I never really accepted them I chalked up their existence (in my condo, no less) to the "cost of paradise". One thing that always drove me nuts was the fact that I'd do all I could to kill the pests only deal w/ a new wave of them every so often whenever a neighbor bombed his apartment. I hate seeing them in Ohio but I've always taken solace in the fact that they'll be gone once winter arrives. Now I'm reminded of the old joke about how if there was a nuclear war all that would be left was Twinkies and cockroaches. How true that is.
The only bright spot in this story is the fact that scientists say this roach can't breed w/ the local varieties to which you and I are accustomed. Luckily mismatched genitalia will keep the species from spawning a new, "super-roach". Seeing that we've now got one that can weather the brutal winters that would otherwise keep it in check I can't help but ask, "But for how long?"
If You're Having Trouble "Chilling Out" Mother Nature Will Help This Week
After heavy snow on Friday we're now in the middle of an arctic plunge.
Out behind the system that brought us some light snow and freezing rain on Sunday an area of arctic high pressure has moved in and if you don't feel it just wait.
A little light snow will be possible on Monday night and Tuesday morning. After that the aforementioned high will start clearing things out and by Wednesday morning we'll see temperatures on either side of 10.
Later in the week high pressure will cause our winds to shift and pick up a more northerly bend. That's when it'll get REALLY cold. The low on Thursday morning will be near 5; that will be the coldest temperature since 2/1/2013. Of course we'll have to take the winds into account b/c chill values (or the "real feel" temperature) will dip below 0 Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon we'll struggle to get to 20 and some of us won't even get there! That should make Friday feel like a bit of a tropical paradise as we climb back into the 30s (right now it looks like we might not even make it to the freezing mark, though).
By Saturday afternoon another system will be heading north along the east coast of the United States. This will bring us a wintry mess. We'll see a bit of a rain/snow mix - possibly a little freezing rain - before this changes over to all snow. It's still early to say exactly how much but measurable snowfall is definitely a possibility. This means that you can expect to see a bit of a mess on the roads Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.
We'll see another blast of cold air out behind this system. Highs will only climb to near 30 on Sunday; and that's early - temps will actually fall through the afternoon. Monday the sun returns but we'll also be in the throes of another arctic chill with highs only into the low & mid-20s. Winter doesn't officially start until December 21st but mother nature is a tad early this week. In fact it'll feel more like mid-winter... not late fall.
Highlights From Our Winter Storm
Well, it's been a busy day in the Miami Valley. Thank goodness the snow is tapering down so now it's time to enjoy our winter wonderland. Here's a map of the general snow totals in the area through the day.
While it's not an exact replica of Thursday nights forecast it's pretty close. This was a tough system to track b/c the transition zone of freezing rain & sleet to snow was passing through the area. A little bit of warmer air aloft nosed it's way in early Friday morning. This means we got a little more sleet & freezing rain than originally expected. Regardless, our actual totals were pretty close to what we were calling for on Thursday night. (See below for that forecast).
The worst of the snow hit in the late morning through the early evening so our timing was pretty spot on. All in all, I'm happy w/ the forecast and I hope everyone in the area stayed safe and will continue to say safe as moisture will re-freeze onto the roads over the weekend which means that treated roads will be slick and untreated roads could turn into sheets of ice.
Here's a look actual snowfall totals as reported by the National Weather Service:
ESE BECKETT RIDGE 6.8
2 N ROSS 6.0
2 WSW MAUSTOWN 5.3
NEW CARLISLE 6.0
2 WNW SPRINGFIELD 4.0
1 NE OGDEN 4.8
1 ENE OGDEN 4.5
2 N WILMINGTON 4.0
2 SSE WILMINGTON 2.9
2 W GREENVILLE 5.0
1 E GREENVILLE 4.0
2 N BELLEFONTAINE 4.5
1 NE TROY 4.0
2 SW TROY 3.0
HUBER HEIGHTS 5.5
2 SW CENTERVILLE 5.5
3 S MIAMISBURG 5.0
1 NW LEBANON 6.5
1 S LEBANON 6.2
2 WNW CLARKSVILLE 4.9
3 SSE GENNTOWN 4.0
Anatomy of Our Winter Storm
By now I'm sure you've heard that a snow storm is on the way. As I type this all of the Miami Valley EXCEPT Mercer & Auglaize counties is under a Winter Storm Warning. Mercer & Auglaize are under a Winter Weather Advisory. A strong cold front sits draped across the Eastern United States right now.
Ample moisture will travel along that front and interact w/ air that's MUCH cooler than it's been over the past few days (Thursday's high was 62 @ 2:57 A.M.).
Heavy snow will develop as that cold air interacts w/ the aforementioned moisture. Right now it looks like the heaviest snow will fall from about 10:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. on Friday. Snowfall rates could reach about 1" an hour during that time frame. My latest forecast calls for the heaviest snow potential in the heart of the Miami Valley.
Areas in the far SE along and around I-71 (Wilmington, Blanchester, Waynesville, Mason, Lebanon, etc.) may only have 2-4" in the forecast but they also have the potential to pick up around a quarter to a half inch of ice. Whenever we throw snow on top of ice we always have problems so even if you're in the SE and it looks like you won't see as much the roads have the potential to be a lot more dangerous.
This has been a tough storm to forecast; the computer forecast models aren't in exact agreement as to the handling of this system. Further complicating things is the fact that the rain/snow line is so close to us that just one little wobble in the transition zone can result in more (less) glazing which would lead to less (more) snow. But I've made my forecast and now I've got to live w/ it. Observational data is suggesting that things should fall in line so I can go to bed knowing I've done all I can do. What a way to come back from vacation.
I know on Wednesday night I claimed I wouldn't blog on Thanksgiving - yet here we are.
I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how happy I am that I'm almost done w/ my homework for the month. No, I'm not in school but as an adult I think of my chores as homework; stuff I don't want to do but know I have to anyway.
There are some tasks that seem to emerge out of nowhere. These are like pop quizzes of adult life. They come w/out warning, are a pain in the rear but usually get taken care of pretty quickly - hopefully you're prepared.
About once or twice a year I'll take on a home improvement project. These are like the big reports, science fair projects or 10-page papers that I'd encounter when I was an academic. I didn't like to do them but once I finally got started I'd plow through it so I could relax.
And then I have the recurring errands that I complete on a monthly basis. I equate these to the day-to-day homework I used to get. This is almost like the "busy work" I hate doing and not surprisingly I put off as long as I can.
This month I had a few things to finish: get the tub fixed (see previous blog), balance my checkbook, pay my bills and go through open enrollment. The last three chores are ones I've been dreading.
Tonight I'm happy to say I'm almost done. The bathroom leak was taken care of on Monday, I got the checkbook balanced on Wednesday, enrolled in my company's insurance plan on Thanksgiving which means paying bills is all I have left to do. That shouldn't take too long and I might even knock that out when I get home from work tonight. Seeing that I'm taking Friday off it doesn't sound like a bad idea.
Either way I'm almost there and then I get to experience one of the greatest feelings in the world: the sense of accomplishment. Until next month that is.
For What Are You Thankful?
Thanksgiving is almost here and I'll be working on the holiday but I plan on taking a break from my writing job - if that's what you can call this. As a result I'm going to use Wednesday night as the time to talk about that for which I am thankful.
I'm thankful for my wife and my beautiful kids along w/ my extended family. I'm thankful that I have a roof over my head, food in the pantry and a job I love. But most of all I think I'm thankful for the countless blessings - both big and small - that the good Lord has bestowed on me and the rest of the world.
The other night I was watching a story on the news and it got me thinking how lucky I am and how I need to learn to appreciate what I have. That story I watched dealt with some of the littlest angels who were about to see their lives cut short b/c of some horrible illness that they were unlucky enough to get. I watched it, shed a tear and couldn't help but feel guilty. There have been times in the past when I was upset w/ this, that or the other and I've lost sight of what makes a life truly blessed: one's health and love - both love that I give out and love that comes back to me.
When I see some of the horrible things out there and then look @ my three wonderful kids, my beautiful wife and a healthy prognosis the material things and petty annoyances that get in the way of day-to-day life don't really seem that bad. Instead of focusing on the bad I should learn to accept those setbacks and realize they help me appreciate the good times that much more.
I hope your Thanksgiving is a happy one and I hope you have a blessed year to come.
It's Thanksgiving week which means that you should start seeing more and more stories detailing how various politicians are "pardoning" turkeys in their localities. It's a cute way to ring in the holiday but I can't help but be a little cynical about it.
One thing I wonder is whether or not that pardon lasts for just one year or if it's a lifetime absolution. If it's just a year then what's the point? That turkey just has some extra time to fatten up; which may not be a bad thing. But if that turkey is safe for the rest of it's life then who shelters the burden of caring for it? I certainly hope the taxpayer isn't on the hook for years b/c of what was originally nothing more than a glorified photo op. While I'm sure it's not expensive to pay for this I can't help but point out that in these times of shrinking budgets every dollar saved is one that doesn't go towards growing the deficit.
But what has me more worried is the prospect of a truly foul fowl walking free. We have no way of looking into any bird's past much less one who's receiving a pardon from an elected representative. Who's to say the turkey getting a reprieve wasn't a really a bad animal? That bird could have done some truly shady stuff over it's lifetime. By issuing a pardon all we're doing is giving a veritable "thumbs up" to its prior transgressions. Maybe eating it would be a boon to both man and turkeykind.
Now I'm not trying to imply that all gobblers misbehave - I don't believe that. In fact I'd go as far as to say that most of them are decent, honest hard-working birds just trying to make their way in the world. But w/ the sheer number of turkeys being pardoned this time every year @ least one or two of them are bound to fall through the cracks. That's what worries me.
And just imagine what could happen if a bunch of these "free birds" all ended up on the same farm together after getting their walking papers. These evil beasts may just end up destroying each other but if they were able to get past their differences and unite on the common ground of seizing power the consequences could reverberate around the planet. I can already see a gang of marauding turkeys Raising Cain in the heartland before turning their sights to the cities and eventually testing the waters of global conquest. If you're having trouble getting there trust me... it's not a pretty sight.
So while I do have, obviously well-founded, concerns I guess this is just a case where I'll have to trust my leaders. I just hope they're good judges of character - not only for my sake but for the sake of the world. Bon appetit!
Messy Travel Possible This Week
As we prepare for this shortened workweek we're staring @ some cold weather heading into the Thanksgiving holiday. We're also looking @ a strong storm system that's expected to strengthen as it heads east. The good news is that we're not going to bear the brunt of it. The bad news is that a lot of people are going to be traveling and depending on the direction you're headed you may encounter some issues.
Light snow Monday night will lead to some more snow Tuesday afternoon. While we won't see a lot of it - some of us won't even get an inch - we'll see enough that slick spots could be an issue Tuesday morning. By Tuesday afternoon a system will be passing by to the SE of us and some of our eastern counties will have the threat for more light snow. Generally, areas west of I-75 will see around a half inch through the entire event. Areas along and east of I-75 will see an inch or so while the far eastern portions of the Miami Valley could get up to 2+ inches through Tuesday.
By Wednesday morning that storm system is moving up the Eastern Seaboard and there will be some travel issues - especially if you're headed east.
As you can see my traveler's forecast is calling for snow to the east. In the above graphic that yellow line is the 300 mile radius around the Dayton Metro area. That's about a 4.5 to 5 hour drive. Keep in mind this is for anyone leaving on Wednesday morning.
If you're leaving Wednesday evening you'll still need to watch out for snow to the east but things will be tapering off so hopefully crews will have a chance to get out and treat the roads.
Thanksgiving is looking cold and windy (as is Wednesday). We'll see some sun on Thanksgiving, though. By Friday we're still cold but @ least we're back into the upper 30s.
Over the weekend we'll see quiet conditions and temperatures will "soar" back into the low to mid-40s during the afternoon which is a lot closer to where we should be for this time of year. There's a chance for rain on Monday but w/ our high and low temperatures that day expected to be above freezing traveling back over the river and through the woods from grandmother's house won't be as treacherous as the trip there.
Hopefully you can find a way to stay warm this week and hopefully you'll get a delicious meal on Thanksgiving. If you're reading this and you don't have anywhere to go Thursday then head on over to the Dayton Convention Center. I, along with the rest of the crew here @ ABC22/Fox45 will be there with a free meal for thousands. If I don't see you have a Happy Thanksgiving and don't forget the sweat pants - there's nothing worse than having a full belly that's constricted by a pair of tight fitting pants after a Thanksgiving feast.
A few years ago when my wife told me she wanted me to go to the pound to look @ a few dogs I told her, "We're not getting a dog." What I didn't know was that she'd stealthily taken my kids there the day before so I was basically walking into a hornet's nest. As a result... we ended up getting a dog. I wasn't very happy.
It's not that I don't like dogs; I do. But a dog is just a big responsibility and I was afraid that it would end up falling upon me. Not just that but there are a lot of "unforeseen" things that can come w/ a pooch. For example, if we want to leave town getting the pup boarded is one more thing to do. If we're out visiting someone and want to stay the night we can't if the dog is home.
Now that it's been a few years I have to say that Nikita was a great addition to the family. I do shoulder a lot of the responsibility that comes w/ a dog but I don't mind taking her for walks; it's good to get the exercise. I don't like cleaning up after her but I guess the "fleas come w/ the dog" - pun intended.
Friday night the dog made me laugh out loud. One of my kids got one of those laser pointers and was playing around w/ it. Whilst doing so it was discovered that Nikki didn't trust it. So now if we shoot it @ the ground and move it across the floor she chases it very aggressively. When my kids showed me this I laughed out loud I thought it was so funny.
I began to think it was a little mean until I saw the look in Nikki's eye. It was the look she gets when a squirrel runs across the lawn or a deer has the audacity to take a step into our neighborhood. In short, she loves chasing the laser around the house. Now I need to make sure none of my kids fire it @ the couch b/c she'll bite @ it and I don't want any torn cushions.
I will admit that I thought my dog was smarter than this. Nikki has always been good @ learning tricks and she's a lab/shepherd mix - which means she's smart enough to be crazy. When I saw her chasing around that little red dot on my floor the idealized image of "genius dog" that I'd painted in my head took a bit of a hit. What's next, chasing a flashlight beam around the room? I mean this is the type behavior my cat would exhibit... and she's an idiot - I won't delve into the evidence but I have plenty of it to back that statement. Regardless, we still love her.
For now I'll just tell myself that Nikita sees that little beam as a threat. More than anything she's loyal & protective. By chasing the imaginary enemy on the floor, wall, etc. she's just doing what, in her mind, needs to be done to keep her family safe. I hope that she eventually learns that this is not a big deal so my faith in her intellectual prowess will be restored. But it is pretty funny... so admittedly there's a small part of me that hopes she never figures it out.
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