Saturday, April 28, 2007

Back at the Ranch

If you didn't know before, then you will find out here that I grew up on a ranch and farm operation in southern Ellsworth county. Every once in a great while, I find my way back home to remind myself what an honest day's work includes. Every spring, family, friends, and close neighbors get together and work the baby calves to get them ready for summer grass. There are vaccinations to give and the calves get a brand that goes on the left shoulder. (a brand is a way to keep your cattle from being stolen) My sister-in-law was responsible for the vaccines, my dad does the branding, and my brother and I do the grunt work of bringing the calf to the ground (of course, we get help from the others too). Every once in a while, the jobs are switched around to keep the help from wearing out. Even though there is work to be done, we still find time to swap good stories, share some good laughs, and remember what draws us together as family and friends. I'll let the pictures tell the story, but it was a beautiful afternoon for working cattle and just another day I'll remember for a long time to come. I'm a little sore today, but I managed to make it through the day with just one big bruise on my leg. I guess I'll survive. (Click on the pictures to see them in a larger format)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

CBS Programming Returns

It turns out to be another evening with severe weather in Kansas and Storm Team 12 takes over the air. I know it's frustrating to have your favorite show covered up. I set my VCR to record "Two and a Half Men" Monday night but what I ended up with was storm coverage for the northwest corner of our state.

I know this topic comes up again and again, but why in the world do we cover storms that are 300 miles away from Wichita? We live in a TV market that has one of the largest viewing areas of any in the country. We are responsible for approximately 90 counties, some of which are in Colorado and Oklahoma. Here is the dilemma that we fight each time there is severe weather hundreds of miles away from Wichita. Anybody watching us on satellite will only get the Wichita broadcast. Therefore, in order for us to reach our loyal viewers on satellite (and there are several), we have to be on in Wichita. It is frustrating for you and for the Storm Team, but we are doing it in hopes of saving lives. Remember, we only do continuous coverage when there are active tornado warnings and there is significant risk to life and property. Wouldn't it be nice to have technology that allows us to pick a zip code that's being affected by a storm and go on the air in those areas only? Okay, it might be wishful thinking, but maybe someday.

In the meantime, I'm posting a picture from Monday's storm near Protection (in Comanche county). It comes from our chaser Brandon Ivey. Thanks to everyone for sending in the pictures.
GOOD NEWS: No more severe weather the rest of the week or over the weekend, so your favorite shows will return uninterrupted. Thanks for your understanding. I'm heading home to work cattle Friday. Be sure to check my blog for some good pictures and a good laugh at the end of the week.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Earth Day 2007

Okay, so the day comes and goes and most of us don't even remember there is such a day. Earth Day is April 22nd and to celebrate, I visited the 4th and 5th grade students at Jefferson Elementary on Friday. It's the part of my job I enjoy very much; visiting with young students and working to get them interested in science and just maybe, weather.

We covered many topics, including low and high pressure, jet stream, weather balloons, and of course, tornadoes. I still perform the "cloud in a bottle" trick for them and even if they have seen it before, I still get the "ooohhhh, awwww". All it takes to do the experiment is a 2-liter bottle with an inch of water in the bottom and two matches. Light the matches and count to about 8 or 9 seconds, then blow out the fire and put the matches in the bottle. Put the lid on the bottle, shake it up and then squeeze and let go repeatedly. You will see the cloud shortly after.

At any rate, thanks to Jennifer Rudolph for the invitation to come down and speak to the students. The posted picture is just some of the students from the Earth Day talk.

I hope the kids aren't trying to sell my autograph on EBay, because they will be disappointed to know it's not worth 20 cents, if that. Have a great weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2007

It Keeps Coming!!

I found some time to add up rainfall amounts for the last 30 days in some of the surrounding areas. These numbers include rain and snow from March 16-April 16 and the Wichita number is rather impressive.
Take a look.

Wichita: 7.49"
Salina: 4.31"
Russell: 3.71"

There are several puddles around the area, muddy roads, and a decent amount of standing water in ditches. Yes, we've seen a bunch of moisture over the last 30 days, but remember how dry it was last summer. Kanopolis Lake was at record low levels and you couldn't even get a boat on the water. There were several ponds that dried up in the summer heat and my dad and brother were hauling water to cattle. There have been several rounds of rain, and crazy enough, snow lately, and it would be nice to catch a week of dry weather so we can catch up on our outdoor chores. However, this is the time of year when we get the majority of our moisture. We don't know what this summer has in store, but if it is a typical Kansas summer, we will be thankful for the extra moisture that we get this spring.

Speaking of summer, if you are a teacher or student in an area school, are you thinking about summer vacation? I know some are already counting the days to their extended break! Have a good week.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


We received a few phone calls regarding the snowstorm on Friday and our prediction of the event. The storm ended up tracking about 75 miles south of where we had anticipated it to go and therefore, the heavier snow ended up in southwest Kansas. In case you missed it, Dodge City had 10 inches of snow, while other areas had 12-14 inches. Northwest Kansas had snow, but it wasn't as heavy as we had anticipated.

I know I've said it before, maybe not on my blog, but forecasting snowfall accumulation is one of the hardest things we have to do as meteorologists (and I'm not making excuses here). One mile can make all the difference in the world as to who gets the heaviest snow. During my time at Channel 6 in Lawrence, I watched storms come through and drop 10 inches on Topeka while Lawrence didn't see any snow at all. Our technology is getting better and so are the forecasts we put out everyday, but remember, meteorology is not an exact science and we just do the best we can with the data that is available to us.

Honestly, I think most people are glad we didn't get as much snow as predicted because we are ready for spring to return. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Here We Go Again!

What's that crossing the weather printer this afternoon? Yeah, it's another round of winter storm warnings and watches for some parts of Kansas. Some would say this is getting ridiculous and if we see snow here in Wichita Friday night, it will be the latest I've ever seen snow in the month of April.

I was instructed to not get in the habit of making this a forecast blog, but I couldn't help but talk about this storm coming in for the end of the week. The image below is taken from one of our computer models and it is showing total precipitation through Saturday morning. You'll see a bullseye of precipitation in northwest Kansas and we think most of this will be in the form of snow. We will use a 10 to 1 ratio for this storm, so for 10 inches of snow, that means 1 inch of actual moisture. If this computer model verifies, that means some areas of the northwest could see 10 inches of snow or more and with the wind blowing, it means significant drifting.

I know I'm not alone when I say this, but enough with the wintry weather already. We are ready to be outside and turn of the furnace for good!

What's the latest you have seen April snow here in Kansas?

I'll write more on Saturday, unless the snow drifts get so high I can't get to work. Take care.

Monday, April 9, 2007

A Busy Start

The severe weather season had an early start this year across the country. Preliminary numbers from the Storm Prediction Center show 334 tornadoes so far this year, compared to 203 last year at this time.

It's not the number of tornadoes that scare me, but the number of tornado fatalities, which stand at 49 already this season. In the 2006 storm season, there were a total of 66 across the country, and when you think about how much of the severe weather season is left, it is a little concerning. Remember, May on average is usually our busy month for tornadoes here in Kansas.

It is very difficult to make a long term prediction on the rest of the storm season, but it is safe to say, there will be more severe weather in Kansas. In fact, some of the latest data that we've been looking at would suggest an active weather pattern the next few weeks, which could mean a busy time in the weather office.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Random Thoughts

I have to admit I was surprised to see such cold air settle in for the first part of April and even more surprised to see the snow. Thanks to Beth Hedberg from McPherson for sending in this picture of snow covering what looks like a Redbud tree.
I'm not a plant specialist, so I don't know exactly how the plants and trees will be affected by the recent cold snap. However, I think it's safe to say they will suffer a brief set back because the temperatures were so cold.
If you had already hooked up your garden hoses, I hope you remembered to unhook them before the cold weather settled in. I had to learn the hard way growing up. I left a hose attached to the house and yes, the sub-freezing temperatures caused the pipe to break inside the house.
We didn't find out about it until later in the evening when water was collecting in our basement. I know my parents haven't forgotten about that one.
I hope you have a good Easter and stay warm if you are hiding eggs outside. At least we won't have to worry about the chocolate bunnies or the marshmallow Peeps melting on us. Have a good Easter!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Weather Folklore

I'm not sure where or when I came up with this idea, but I thought it would be fun to write about weather folklore. This is definitely a topic my mom will get a kick out of because she has a million of these sayings.

Here are a few:
*When cows bunch up in the corner of a pasture, expect rain soon.
*Red sky at night-sailors delight; red sky at morning-sailors take warning

Here is one that my mom has tested over and over and she will tell you it's true every time.
*There will be some type of precipitation 100 calendar days after a foggy morning ( give or take a day). She marks the day on the kitchen calendar and from what I've seen, it is a pretty good indicator of when we will get rain. Yes, my forecasting skill comes from my mom!!

I know there are a bunch of famous lines out there on the world wide web. Here are a few I stumbled on just the other day:
*Horses run fast before a violent storm or windy conditions
*Expect rain and maybe severe weather when dogs eat grass (my dog is always wrong on this)
*Flowers close up before a storm
*Redbirds chatter before a rain storm
*When spiders weave their webs before noon, fine weather is coming soon

I'm really hoping you have others to add to the list. Maybe your mom or dad, perhaps even grandparents have used weather folklore to forecast the weather. I'd like to hear your famous lines so I can use them to check my forecast.

I'll post more on Saturday!! Have a great day.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Pets and weather

I hope you had a nice weekend. I spent part of mine with family and friends and in this posting, I want to introduce you to one of my family members; Millie. She is a full blood Welsh Corgi that I've had now for over 2 years. The picture on the left is when she was just 6 weeks old and still not potty trained (I'm glad those days are behind us). The picture on the right is a more recent picture, but what is hard to see in either picture is that Millie has very short legs. The funny thing is what she lacks in legs she makes up in willpower. It may not seem possible, but her back legs are very strong and she is able to jump about 3-4 feet in the air. I'm convinced my dog works out while I'm away from home during the day.

If you read my last blog entry, I did mention how dogs were good storm chasing companions. Millie and I were out in western Kansas last Wednesday tracking the storms. Although she isn't very fond of loud claps of thunder or storms in general, she seemed to be enjoying her time in the back of SatCam while we were keeping a close watch on the clouds. If you have a pet, please share your stories on how they react to thunderstorms and weather in general. Some say pets are good meteorologists and they know when threatening weather is on the horizon. I think there is some truth to this and I'll have to look into it for a future blog entry.

If I'm at home when a thunderstorm comes through, Millie will not leave my side. She doesn't bark or get upset. Instead, she would rather be right under my feet where she feels the most protection. I must have her fooled. Millie has had a few TV appearances on weekends and I'm sure there are more of them down the road. Have a great week!

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