Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Derecho!!!!!

As we wait and wish for showers and thunderstorms, parts of the country are getting rocked with severe weather today. A classic wind storm across the upper Midwest known as a Derecho is causing a great deal of problems for our friends to the north causing numerous wind reports in excess of 80mph and very large hail, up to baseball size, have been reported. Below is a short radar clip of the Derecho as it moves into Western Minnesota.

Many times Derechos develop form a single Supercell thunderstorm that becomes outflow dominate, undercutting the updraft needed to sustain the Supercell. Along this outflow boundary, new storms fire and continue to grow in strength. As the system grows, the speed it travels increases and widespread wind damage can occur. Winds as high as 100mph to 120mph can occur along a Derecho causing tornado like damage. In many cases, the Derecho is worse than many small tornadoes as much of a Derecho’s wind can be in the EF-2 tornado range. Imagine a swath 50 to 100 miles wide of EF-2 tornado like winds. Damage can be tremendous. Also, many times on the north end of the Derecho, a rotating comma head can form producing small tornadoes. In the clip above you can make out a rotating comma head. There were numerous tornado warnings along this line in the area of that comma head. An event very similar to this occurred earlier this year with an EF-1 tornado in Kilgore and Longview. A bow echo moved through with a rotating comma head producing a 21 mile long path of EF-0 and EF-1 tornado damage. There have been many Derecho events across the Southern Plains. For more information on historic Derecho events click the link below.

More Info

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hello Dolly?????

The remains of Dolly could bring some much needed relief over the next couple of days. The moisture from Dolly is causing heavy rain and flooding conditions across Missouri today. The center of what once was Dolly is located over Kansas this morning and she continues to move to the east. A trough of low pressure extends south into North Central Texas today and this could cause a few showers and storms to form today across our North West Counties. This trough will slowly move across North Texas giving a few some much needed rain. There is a slight chance that the remains of Dolly could continue riding the ridge of high pressure and enter the Eastern Gulf of Mexico late this weekend. Indications are this moisture could move westward and reach East Texas by next Wednesday. Again, the chances of this occurring are pretty slim as it looks as though the remains of Dolly are getting caught up in the westerly flow, carrying her moisture away from East Texas.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Big Weight Loss Plan........

As many of you can tell, I have been struggling with my weight the past year. There has been a lot of debate the last couple of weeks on which of the three “Big Diets” work the best, a low carb, a low fat, or a Mediterranean diet. I can tell you from experience, that the low carb, or Atkins Diet, worked for me. A few years ago while working in the restaurant industry, a few managers got together to have a competition on who could lose the most weight. The winner would win $500. So at 205 pounds, I entered the contest, I am a very competitive individual. The weight loss contest began in late April. By the end of June, the contest ended and I had slimmed down to an amazing 159 pounds, my wife said I was too skinny. All though the money for the contest was never paid, I gained a much healthier life style, my blood pressure was low and, my cholesterol was at a healthy level again. So I really didn’t mind not getting the money.

I continued to live this healthy life style until I was hired for a new position in which I had to spend a lot of time on the road. Fast food became the regular and the weight piled back on and I have struggled ever since. Two weeks ago I went to the doctor and reached a new peak weight, 226!!!!! My blood pressure is way up and my cholesterol is at an unhealthy level. That did it! I decided to go back on the Atkins diet and this time, I have you to hold me accountable. So I am here to tell everyone my goal weight and will keep you updated with what I eat and my weight loss progress. From time to time I will put some of my favorite low carb recipes on this blog too. This morning I weighed 215 pounds, that’s eleven pounds that are gone for good. My goal weight is to reach 175 pounds by Christmas but I hope to continue to drop down to 165. Hopefully, you will notice a big change in my appearance over the next few weeks.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dangerous Heat Possible

The hottest temperatures of the year so far are expected to greet East Texas this weekend as many locations could top the 100 degree mark. Another strong, mid level, ridge of high pressure is building across the state keeping conditions mainly dry and hot. This is not good news for Texas as much of the state is once again under drought conditions. Many towns across East Texas have already placed outdoor watering bans into effect, and more will probably follow. According to the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which measures drought severity on a scale from 0-800, 800 being the worst, most of East Texas is beginning to experience another drought. The chart below shows the KBDI readings between 400 and 800.

Outdoor burning will also become a problem this weekend as very hot and dry conditions dry out vegetation across our region. Temperatures will average between 98and 101 degrees this weekend with heat index values close to 105, the danger category for being outdoors. The heat index is a value used to determine how your body will react to the combination of air temperature and the amount of moisture in the air. The more moisture that is in the air, the harder it is for your body to cool itself because it takes much longer for your sweat to evaporate, cooling your skin. This also causes you to become dehydrated faster because it takes more of your bodies fluids to create a cooling effect. Below is a chart you can use to determine what the heat index is where you live.

So if you have to be outdoors this weekend, remember to drink plenty of water, soda and alcohol can cause dehydration. Also, don’t forget the sun screen. Take it from me, you do not want your scalp to burn, it is no fun. The best thing to do is to stay in an air conditioned environment, maybe take in a movie?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dolly, Please Bring Rain!!!

Dolly is expected to hit the Gulf Coast near Brownsville, TX around Midday tomorrow as a Category 1 hurricane. Very heavy rain and strong gusty winds will occur across south Texas over the next couple of days but over our region of the world, the heat continues. Now there is some good news for East Texas. Dolly will wrap some moisture back into our region starting tomorrow so our chances of afternoon and evening thunderstorms will increase. This will also cool our temperatures a bit over the next couple of days. However, our strong ridge of high pressure that has been dominating our weather will continue to push Dolly off to our south and build back into our region, heating us back up for the weekend. We could be entering a period of extended dry weather with our only chances of rain coming from isolated afternoon thunderstorms. There are signs that our weather pattern could change towards the end of July but, until then it looks hot and dry for at least the next week after Dolly’s moisture leaves East Texas.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Legacy of Bertha

The longest lasting July tropical system on record is still holding her own in the North Atlantic. Tropical Storm Bertha, once a category 3 hurricane, has been going strong since July 3rd when she formed off the African Coast. If you think you remember a Bertha from earlier years, you would be correct. In fact, there have been six tropical systems named Bertha in the Atlantic Basin, three reached hurricane strength. The last Bertha to form was a tropical storm in 2002 that affected the Louisiana and Texas Gulf coast with heavy rains and top winds of 40mph. The National Hurricane Center recycles the names of tropical systems until a storm causes significant loss of property or life, and then the name is retired. There is a chance Bertha may finally be retired, not because of her destruction, but because of her records. Not only is Bertha the longest lasting July tropical system, she is also the farthest east pre-August forming tropical system and major hurricane on record.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Global Warming, Is the Debate Over?

Global Warming Catastrophe Alarmists would have you believe the debate is over. There is no doubt the world is warming and man is to blame. If we do not change our ways the earth as we know it will cease to exist. Many cities today will be under water. Hurricanes and tornadoes will become much stronger and occur more frequently. We have all heard this because the “main stream media” loves to promote Armageddon. But what do that facts state? Well over the next few days I plan to point out a few facts you may not have heard so you can draw your own conclusion on Global Warming.

“Climate Change to Spur Extreme Weather”
This is just one of the many News headlines you have read or seen about the effects Man Made Global Warming will have on the Earth’s climate. Well I want to dive into this spring’s active severe weather and flooding so everyone can get a better understanding on how storm systems work and what causes them to be so severe. We have all heard about how bad this year’s tornado season has been and how many climatologists are blaming Global Warming for the severity of the tornadoes this year. I think a better argument is many ingredients have to come together to produce severe storms and tornadoes and this year, the ingredients have come together more than in previous years, but why? This past May was actually the 4th coldest on record during the satellite era, the same time period Climatologists have been studying the warming of the Earth. During May, the Rocky Mountain States along with the Northern Plains and Canadian Provinces have been much cooler than normal. At the same time, the Bermuda High, an area of high pressure that forms over the Atlantic during the summer months, has built in across the Southeastern United States. This has pushed the average storm track to the north across the Midwest and Plains States. Now the fact that May’s Temperatures in the northern latitudes have been cooler than normal has lead to a greater temperature gradient than normal. This has allowed the Jet Stream to be much stronger than it usually is this time of the year causing the numerous outbreaks of tornadoes. This has also lead to a large amount of rain to fall over the same areas, causing very bad, if not record flooding in some areas. So before we blame these events on Global Warming, let’s all understand better what set these chains of events in motion.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To Drill or Not to Drill

The great debate over our energy need has become the number one issue facing the American Public today. Now it is up to Congress to decide whether or not we can drill for oil off of our own coast lines. Now I am in no way an expert in economics but I do have an opinion on how drilling for oil off the United States Shores and other places in our country will affect the price of gasoline at the pump. The price of oil continues to climb with no end in site mainly, in my opinion, due to speculation on the fact that we have no concrete plan to terminate our dependency on foreign oil. By formatting a plan to stop our dependency on foreign oil, the price of oil will drop, regardless of the fact it will take up to ten years to see any oil from our new drilling sites.

So why can’t we drill in more locations off our coast acquiring an extra 80 billion plus barrels of oil? The main arguments have been maintaining a pristine marine environment and needing to develop alternative, reusable energy sources. Now I am a firm believer in developing new sources of energy but, this will have no affect on the price of gas now. We are at least ten years away from everyone being able to afford hybrids and hydrogen cell vehicles so in my mind that argument does not work. As for keeping a pristine marine environment, offshore oil rigs provide artificial reefs which allow marine life to flourish. In most cases, within six months after an offshore rig has been placed, a thriving ecosystem develops with all forms of marine life. Before rigs were placed in the western Gulf of Mexico, the marine life was rather scarce, now some of the world’s best fishing and diving is near and around these rigs. What about the amount of oil which leaks in the Seas while drilling? Well, this amount fails in comparison to the amount of oil which naturally seeps into the oceans. 180 million gallons of oil naturally leak into the world’s oceans, making up near 62% of the total amount of oil in the Seas. The percentage of oil from oil platform leaks, less than 1%. Now I by no means believe we can drill our way out of our energy crisis but, I do believe we can lower the cost of our energy through drilling while we develop new and reusable forms of energy.

So in my mind, it is a no brainer………………..Drill now!!!!!!!