Sunday, July 29, 2007

County/4-H Fair Week

Growing up as a kid in Ellsworth county, I always knew that summer was almost over when the 4-H Fair week finally arrived. That happens to be this week for the kids in Ellsworth county, but there are others going on this week too. Alright, so if you don't know what 4-H is, the Hs stand for "head, heart, hands, and health". It is a great program to teach young kids leadership, responsibility, community involvement, and there are so many different projects to get involved in that you are almost gauranteed to find something that will spark some interest.

It is a busy week for the kids and adults alike. Kids are excited show off their projects that they've been working on for 10 or 11 months and the parents are busy making sure their kids are getting things done on time. I was involved in the beef program, showed pigs for a few years, and even tried my hand at gardening for several years. My cucumbers, tomatoes, and potatoes were never eye catching, but it was fun to compete against other kids from across the area. I tried showing horses for a few years, but when my horse tried to buck me off in the show arena, I decided my horse riding skills were for the pasture and not for competition.

I miss those days and I have to admit, there are times when it would be fun to go back. I'll post a few pictures from my 4-H days and if you get some time to post a story about your 4-H experience, I'm sure they would be fun to read. Good luck 4-H kids!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hot Spots!!

It's been interesting this week watching a weird weather pattern set up across the nation. Why is it weird, you ask? Well, take a look at this map (click on it to see a larger version). There has been a strong low pressure system hanging around the Ohio area this past week and it's actually been moving to the north and slightly northwest. It's helping to keep the northern states under a strong area of high pressure, which is where we've been seeing the scorching heat lately. Places like Minot, North Dakota and Rapid City, South Dakota have been seeing air temperatures (not heat index values) in the low to mid 100s. Typically, you would find low to mid 80s across these areas and to make it even worse, it's also been rather humid.
The hottest temperature for Wichita this summer has been 93 degrees, which is also very unusual for us. Normally by this point in the summer, we've had at least one 100 degree day, but keep in mind, there have been summers where the mercury has not made it above 100. Will that happen this year? Let me get my crystal ball (just kidding)
It's too early to speculate on how hot August might be, but we still have several weeks of hot weather ahead. It looks like the 90 degree weather will continue into the first part of August with no major heat waves expected soon. Even 100 degree heat is not expected anytime soon across Kansas. Our weather pattern should bring some rain to Kansas in the next 8-10 days, which is great news for some areas that missed the heavy rain earlier in the month. Even southcentral Kansas could use a shower. (I didn't think I would say that for a long time)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

My Summer Vacation

Maybe you figured it out from my last entry that camping is something I enjoy very much, but I haven't been able to go for a long time. I finally had the opportunity to go Friday night and ended up at El Dorado lake in the Shady Creek campground. I don't have a boat or jet ski, but that's okay because I have this huge fear of water (gives me another idea for another blog entry) and to me, the best part of camping is just being outside and cooking over a camp fire. The bugs are a huge annoyance, but it's just part of it I guess.

A group of Veterans were getting together this weekend at the lake and they had a great fireworks display and the live band was pretty good too. The loud noise from the fireworks had my dog nervous, but she is used to it since the 4th of July was just a few weeks ago.

One other interesting thing from Friday night. I hardly ever have cash with me and apparently thats all they take at some of the park entrances. We were racing against the setting sun to get the tent set up and I didn't have time to go back into El Dorado for cash. The park ranger did notice that I didn't have a permit, but she was kind enough to let me get cash the next day and pay before leaving the area. In the 1% chance that she reads this blog, thank you very kindly for the leeway and yes, I did pay Saturday morning before leaving. The weather was perfect with a slight breeze and temperatures that weren't too unbearable.

My dog spent some time snorkeling and looking for zebra mussels Saturday morning. All she came home with was a tick and some tired legs. At the risk of posting too many pictures of my dog, I'll do it anyway. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer Vacations

I heard someone say the other day "I can't believe summer is almost over". Well, it depends on how you define summer. According to the calendar, we have about 2 months of summer left. However, if you are referring to summer as the time that kids are away from school, well then yes, summer is on the wane.

How are you spending your summer? Although I haven't been out of school for that long, these warm days and warm nights remind me of summer trips that I participated in during my college days. One of the most memorable trips I had was one that led us to Lebanon, Missouri to float down the Niangua River. We rented canoes and spent almost two full days floating down the river. It was very relaxing and one of the best parts was using gigantic water guns to soak others in their canoes. We spent two nights camping and surprisingly fixed some great meals over an open fire (yes, camping is a favorite of mine, as long as the bugs don't get out of control) Those days have passed but the great memories live on forever. In an effort to keep my job, I'll avoid writing about the REALLY good stories from that trip.

The weather is slowing down this week, which is good news for those that have been trying to dry out and get caught up on their outdoor work. I hope you'll take time to share a story or two on how you are spending your summer. Have a great week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Working Together is Important

Maybe you heard about it on the national news, but this week the director of the National Hurricane Center left his position. There is some speculation as to exactly what happened, but it seems to be that he had trouble getting along with other people at the hurricane center. It was bad enough that a petition was circling the office asking for him to step down from his post before the center gets busy with tropical weather activity. You hate to rain on this guy's parade, but you have to be able to work with people, even though you might not always see eye-to-eye.

Bill Proenza, former director at the NHC, also upset people by making comments about a failing satellite that might affect the accuracy of their forecasts. While it may be an inconvenience to be without this satellite, there are several other tools available to meteorologists at the NHC that will keep their forecasts on track. No need to worry about just one satellite. We have redundancy in weather for many reasons and this is a good example why.

Imagine a major hurricane bearing down on the US and everyone at the hurricane center starts to look like this guy.

It is scary to think about, but I think they finally have things under control for the upcoming hurricane season... at least we hope. Otherwise, there will be thousands of people along the coast without critical information.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Rain, Weather Patterns, and Summer

As I write this entry, it is 80 degrees outside and a good evening to just be outdoors. How are you spending your summer? I'm not sure about you, but it seems like the summer is moving along at a fast pace. I think it's because we are all staying busy and it goes faster as we get older (I'm finding that out fast).

I've had a few questions regarding the heat in the west and other questions about the heavy rainfall that has fallen recently in Kansas. The hot weather in the west is nothing unusual for this time of the year. Remember, the jet stream is tracking near the Canada/US border, so south of this jet stream is where you find the warmer temperatures. The jet stream doesn't move much until we get into September, so the hot weather will continue in the west. There is some connection to the heavy rainfall in Kansas too. Cold fronts that drop out of the north usually make it to Kansas and then stop. When the fronts stop on Kansas, we tend to get heavy rainfall events. The extremely high moisture content in the atmosphere was another reason why we ended up with 17 and 18 inch rainfall amounts. A similar situation could be on the way this week with several rounds of storms, but lets hope it doesn't get that bad.

I like putting pictures on here and we did get a good one this week from Robin Eshelman. The deer in the picture don't look to happy about the situation. Swimming must not be their forte. By the way, after spending some time at home for the holiday, I noticed a HUGE increase in the toad population. They literally cover the road and it's impossible to dodge them with a vehicle. Just thought I would share.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Tropical Weather In Kansas

The rainfall and humidity has been excessive in some areas this spring and early summer. It almost reminds me of Costa Rica, which sees rainfall almost every afternoon because of its location in the tropics.

I visited Costa Rica almost 7 years ago to the date as part of an all-expense paid trip through the National FFA Organization (an organization that teaches leadership, personal success, and career growth through agricultural education). In order to quality for the trip, you had to be nominated for a national award and then be interviewed by a panel of judges. A tedious process worked out in my favor and I was fortunate to get the opportunity to travel with a great group of FFA students, most of them 4 or 5 years older than me at the time.
I don't want to bore you with all the details of the trip, but our purpose was to spend 10 days in Costa Rica learning how agricultural practices are different from those in the United States. The weather is ideal for growing sugar cane, bananas, pineapple, and coffee beans, which keep the farmers in that area busy almost year round. I had the chance to pick coffee beans by hand, but that was before the tour guide informed us there are pit vipers that hide in the coffee plants. Refer to my blog entry called "Facing Your Fear". I hate snakes!

We did see all kinds of different animals in our journey through Costa Rica. The best part about the trip was soaking in the hot springs just outside of San Jose. The water is natually heated by Volcano Arenal, which erupts almost daily. If there is a big interest in other details, I'll write more in another entry. Enjoy the pictures and look for a KWCH connection in a few of them.

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