weather or not

And Our Extended Forecast Outlook Is…..

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Over the years I have had people ask me to prepare a weather forecast for their wedding that is coming up in a year. There is a very simple answer to that request. There is no way I can give you an accurate weather forecast that far in advance. I always follow that up with the explanation that they could contact me a week or so before the event and I could start with the seven day outlook and then count them down day-to-day as to the kind of weather they should expect.

It has been my experience that our forecasts for days one, two, and three are quite accurate but once we get past those days and see days four through seven, the confidence level drops a bit each day. The National Weather Service can forecast out fifteen days and any farther out is more of a trend rather that a specific forecast. As I have discussed before I have lived all over the country and each place where I lived posed a different set of complications to accurately forecasting the weather.

Wisconsin Snow
Winter Snow In Eu Claire, Wisconsin | Photo by The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire (UWEC)

There are times, here in the Pacific Northwest, when things change so quickly that the forecast can’t keep up with the changes fast enough. Take for example when I lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin back in the mid 1970s. By the time most of the winter storms were approaching our area the storm had what I call a “personality.” Let’s say in moved onshore at the Pacific coast. The storm would then push eastward past the Coast Range mountains, the Willamette Valley, the Cascades, Eastern Oregon, the Rocky Mountains, and then the Plains before striking Wisconsin.

GOES Weather Satellite
Early GOES Weather Satellite | Image by wynonahweather.com

With that history the forecaster has a better handle on what the storm might do next by following what it had already done. You add in the satellite and surface weather station data and plug that information into a computer program and there is your forecast. The National Weather Service has depended on geostationary satellites to see the clouds and storm structure over the globe. Geostationary satellites stay in one spot above the earth so they can look at a one area of the Earth over period of time.

Over A Foot Of Snow
Heaviest Snowfall 10:26 AM 2/25/19 | Photo by Tim Chuey

Now, here we are in Oregon. What history do we know about a storm that is steaming across the Pacific Ocean and poised to change our weather? Not as much, I say. We do have a battery of satellites orbiting the earth and some which are stationary that can look down at weather systems and see, not only visibly, but also with infrared technology to collect as much data as possible to make a forecast. What really complicates things is the terrain these storms must traverse once they move over land. The Coast Range and its various passes can have a various amount of effects on a storm which can change in a moments notice. There are also some weather reports from ships out on the Pacific Ocean, but that data doesn’t come near to the amount of information that can come from following a storm’s life as it moves across much larger distances.

Fuging Zhang
Fuqing Zhang | Photo by Penn State University

Why do I bring this up? Simple, I ran into an article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society titled “What is the Predictability Limit of Midlatitude Weather?” The authors of the paper discussed in the Journal are Fuqing Zhang and Y. Quiang Sun from the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, and Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.

PSU
Penn State University (PSU) Meteorology Department | Image by Penn State University

Quoting the introduction to their paper “Weather forecasting has improved dramatically since the introduction of numerical weather prediction (MWP) nearly 6 decades ago (Bauer et al. 2015). This has been accomplished through ever-increasing computing power, improved models running at ever-increasing resolution with more accurate representation of atmospheric processes, and more sophisticated four-dimensional data assimilating algorithyms that can better injest ever-increasing volumes and quality of in situ and remotely acquired observations (WMO 2015).”  That is a brief history of the growth of weather prediction.

6-10-Day Temps
NOAA 6-10 Day Extended Temperature Forecast | Image by CPC.NCEP.NOAA.GOV

From their abstract: “Understanding the predictability limit of day-to-day weather phenomena such as midlattitude winter storms and summer monsoonal rainstorms is crucial to numerical weather prediction (NWP).” The predictability limit is studied by using high-resolution global models with ensemble experiments of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF; 9 km. operational model) and identical twin experiments of the U. S. Next-Generation Global Prediction System (NGGPS; 3km).

6-10-day Precip.
NOAA 6-10 Day Extended Precipitation Forecast | Image by CPC.NCEP.NOAA.GOV

Thirty years ago the extended outlook could only reach out to seven days. Now the forecast window goes out to 10 days. Using the newest techniques available they hope to be able to extend the forecasts past that 10-day threshold. However, they feel that there will be a limit as to just how far past the 10-days an accurate weather forecast can pushed.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can email me at: [email protected].

“I Shot An Arrow Into The Air, It Fell To Earth, I Knew Not Where;”

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The title of this article should be familiar to us all. It is the first two lines of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem The Arrow and the Song. Those words are particularly important to bow hunters as they are aiming at their prey. As all hunters are taught, you need to identify your target before you shoot at it. Some hunters using firearms improperly shoot when they see the brush moving without actually seeing the animal they are hunting. That can result in another hunter being shot and possibly killed.

Destructive Space Debris, Movie Gravity | Image by wallerjoel.typepad.com

A fairly recent fictional movie plot showed how the Russians blew up one of their satellites and the debris started destroying other satellites and eventually the International Space Station, a Russian space platform, and a Chinese space platform. There were some scientific miscues in the plot of “Gravity”, but a recent event caused a lot of concern particularly for the future. Just what repercussions could result in a disaster in space or even in the skies over our cities. The debris could possibly damage or destroy an airplane in flight.

Missile Launch
Indian Defense Research and Development Organization Ballistic Missile Launch | Photo by Ministry of Defense, Government of India

In this case reality is imitating art. A Forbes.com article titled “India’s Anti-Satellite Missile Test Left A Cloud Of Debris And Tension In Its Wake” written by Kiona N. Smith highlights this specific and increasingly dangerous practice. Apparently the rule is if you own a satellite you have the right to destroy it. It happened on March 27, 2019. India, not the country I would have expected, completed a test in which they launched a ballistic missile to intercept and destroy one of their own dead satellites that was orbiting at about 300 km (186 mi) above the earth. It sounds simple enough, but it became quite complicated.  The project was called “Mission Shakti.”

Space Debris Damsge
NASA Scientist Mark Matney Seen Through Thumb Size Hole in a 3-inch thick piece of Aluminum struck by a test object at high speed to simulate Space Debris | Photo by AP/Pat Sullivan

Nearly one week after the satellite was blown up, quoting the article, “U.S. Strategic Command was tracking 400 fragments of the destroyed satellite. Immediately after the test, U.S. Strategic Command was tracking 250 pieces of debris in orbit, most of which have since fallen into Earth’s atmosphere. The destructive test has raised new concerns about anti-satellite warfare and the risk that floating debris from such destruction could pose to civilian spacecraft.”

In order to move a satellite away from a newly destroyed satellite’s debris some sort of program could be developed so that there would be enough time to send the order to change orbit and give the satellite enough time to get out of the way. There has been a debris problem in the crowded space around the earth since we started putting so many satellites, space platforms, and space vehicles up there. When a satellites has a power failure or it no longer functions it can become a hazard. Without power they will eventually fall out of orbit and Earth’s gravity takes over. Most of the debris has burned up in the atmosphere and whatever makes it through is usually to small to be a serious threat, but there is still debris circling the earth still.

India certainly isn’t the only country to do this. Quoting the article ” In 2008, the U.S. fired a missile from a guided missile cruiser, USS Lake Erie, to destroy a malfunctioning reconnaissance satellite, USA-193, 230 km above the planet’s surface. The impact pushed a dozen pieces of the satellite into orbits that reached 500 km to 90 km, and it took 18 months for the last of those to fall back to earth. ”

The Chinese destroyed one of their satellites back in 2007 producing “the largest debris cloud in the history of human spaceflight.” It took six years, but in 2013 a Russian satellite was struck by a piece debris from the Chinese satellite. The impact was strong enough to change the orbit of the Russian satellite. There is still plenty of debris from those destroyed satellites that is being tracked to this day.

A final quote :”In 1978, NASA astrophysicist Donald J. Kessler described a worst-case scenario. If the space around the Earth got crowded enough, Kessler suggested, then one collision or explosion could inevitably lead to another. It would be like knocking over a row of dominoes, except that they would take years, rather than minutes, to fall.” If the military of a country try to shoot down satellites of another country we could have a real space war on our hands. Lets hope cooler heads prevail.

US Astronaut In Soyuz Simulator| Photo by NASA

On Thursday July 16, 2015 a piece of space debris forced US astronaut Scott Kelly and two other astronauts in the International Space Station to take shelter in the Soyuz spacecraft that is docked at the station and kept there for emergencies.

Meteor Shower
Meteor Shower | Photo by Texashillcountry.com

Just maybe the plot of the movie “Gravity” isn’t so far-fetched as we first thought. Think about that the next time you look up at the night sky during a meteor shower. If they can fall naturally to the Earth and pieces survive so that someone or something could be hurt, imagine what a cascade of crashing satellites could do to us.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can email me at: [email protected].

 

If At First You Don’t Succeed…. Repeat The Forecast.

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I’ve been in the weather forecasting business since 1972 and like most of us in this line of work the struggle has always been to produce the most accurate forecast possible. The problem arises when the forecast doesn’t verify. That’s a meteorologists term for when the weather doesn’t cooperate and goes against what I said would happen. This is particularly frustrating here in the Southern Willamette Valley when a Winter storm is moving down from the north. All indications are that we will get at least a dusting of snow on the valley floor and possibly a couple of inches could pile up. The storm hits Washington and sweeps into Portland dumping at least a couple of inches of snow producing dangerous driving conditions. That storm was expected to push into the Eugene-Springfield area complicating our daily commute.

Trough Monday 2.19.18
Upper Level Low Pressure Trough Over Pacific Northwest Monday 2.19.18 | Image by NOAA through sfsu.edu

As luck would have it the snowfall stopped just to our north. That made all of us in the forecasting field look like we got it wrong. Well, I think it is a good idea to show you what actually happened. An upper level low pressure trough (shaded “U” shape with blue arrows) was positioned over the Pacific Northwest in such a way as to give us a north-northwest airflow bringing cold Arctic air down through Canada.

Surface Storm
Surface Low (L) Sliding Southward Along Oregon And California Coasts | Image by NOAA Weather Prediction Center

A surface low with its associated cold front was moving southward along that upper level airflow aiming the cold air right at us. This is why the storm was forecast to push all the way south into the South Willamette Valley. The perfect scenario was set up for all of the Willamette Valley to receive a significant snowfall right down to the valley floor.

Snowfall Prediction
National Weather Service Forecast Office Portland Snowfall Predictions | Image by NWSFO Portland

The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Portland issued their snowfall forecast for Tuesday evening 2.20.18 which included a 2-4 inch amount southward down to the Eugene-Springfield area. Portland received a record 4.2 inches of snow on Tuesday and a record 0.50 inch of snow on Wednesday. You don’t have to guess how that turned out for us. The storms energy hit north, but died out before reaching us and the result was just a trace of rain and no snow for Eugene. You might say, and many probably did, that we blew that forecast. You might be correct, or did the situation change just enough for the storm to miss us?

Trough Thursday
Upper Level Low Pressure Trough Position Thursday 2.22.18 | Image by NOAA through sfsu.edu

An Upper Level Low Pressure Trough sets up again Wednesday night into Thursday in the same position as Monday into Tuesday. Another surface storm is expected to ride down the backside of the trough giving us the chance for another possible snow storm. Imagine you are the forecaster. There is an old saying “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.” Do we forecast the snowfall knowing the last time it missed us or do we assume the same scenario will repeat itself and downplay the storm? The thing I learned years ago is that you can’t let the previous forecast effect the next one. I’d much rather warn you that a storm looks likely and have you prepared rather than be gun-shy and assume no snow will fall. That brings up another one of my favorite sayings ” When you assume you make an ass out of you and me.”

Hourly Observations
Observations For Eugene Maylon-Sweet Airport | Image by NWSFSO Portland

The NWSFO  observations for Eugene shows snow falling from 1:54 AM through 9:09 AM Thursday. There’s absolutely no problem verifying the forecast this time. Some snowfall totals reported for Thursday 2.22.18 include 2.00 inches at the Eugene Airport, public reports 4 inches in Marcola and 3-4 inches of snow in the Oakway area. At 600 ft. elevation in South Eugene I measured only 0.75 inch to 1.00 inch of snow in my driveway Thursday morning. Portland saw 1.7 inches of snow Thursday beating their old record of 1 inch of snow back in 1957.

3 AM Snowfall
Snowfall Eugene South Hills 600 Ft. Elevation 3 AM 2.22.18 | Photo by Michelle Chuey

My Daughter Michelle took a picture out of a window looking to the east from our house at about 3:00 am Thursday showing how beautiful the snowfall looked. That’s of course before you have to go out your door and drive or walk on it.

Snowfall 9:00 AM 2.22.18
Snowfall Eugene South Hills 9:00 AM Thursday 2.22.18 | Photo by Tim Chuey

Here’s what it looked like at about 9:00 am Thursday from my driveway. The snow was beginning to compact and later in the afternoon would be nearly gone. To sum this all up, yes one forecast was a bust. The second one, however, was spot on accurate. We did receive significant snow accumulation down to the valley floor. The roads were a bit slippery, but for the most part driving conditions were more of a nuisance than a hazard because it melted away rather quickly.

Snowstorm 24 Hours Later
South Hills About 24 Hours After Snowstorm Picture Taken 2 AM 2.23.18 | Photo by Michelle Chuey

One last picture shows just how long this particular storm lasted. I convinced my daughter to attempt a recreation of her nighttime snowstorm scene abut 24 hours later and, as you can see, the snow is just about gone.

To wrap this up I can give you my philosophy of weather forecasting. I would much rather give you a forecast for a storm that doesn’t materialize than to give you a rosy forecast and have you caught unaware in a bad weather situation. Too may lives and livelihoods depend on knowing what to expect from the weather to be flippant or careless when letting you know what kind of weather we can expect at any given time.

By the time you read this we very well might be in the throes of another snowstorm or maybe not. Just remember Winter is not over yet. Spring officially begins with the Vernal Equinox at 9:15 AM PDT Tuesday March 20th, but that doesn’t mean that Winter weather will be over at that time. Historically we have seen Winter storms reach into the month of April. The Boy Scouts of America have the right idea. You must always “Be Prepared.”

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

It’s Like A River Or An Avalanche And Can Be Deadly.

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It is “a moving mass of loose mud, sand, soil, rock, water and air that travels down a slope under the influence of gravity.” That’s the definition of a Debris Flow (more commonly called a Mudslide by the media) according to the Colorado Geological Society. Whichever name you use they have been in the news lately causing death and destruction. They list the actual definition this way “A Mud Slide (mud flow) is a mass of water and fine-grained earth that flows down a stream, ravine, canyon, arroyo or gulch.” To be considered a mudflow more than half of the particles must be sand sized or smaller. Mudflows are the sandy, more watery counterparts of debris flows.”

Big Sur Landslide
Big Sur Landslide May 20 | Photo by businessinsider.com

Rather than giving you a, pardon the expression, watered down explanation I’ll let an article from NationalGeographic.org give definition. “A landslide is the movement of rock, earth or debris down a sloped section of land. Landslides are caused by rain, earthquakes, volcanoes, or other factors that make the slope unstable.”

Landslide Causes
Landslide Types | Image by image.slideshare.cdn.com

Geologists say there are three causes of landslides which are geology, morphology, and human activity. Here is how NationalGeographic.com explains each one. “Geology refers to characteristics of the material itself. The earth or rock might be weak or fractured, or different layers may have different strengths and stiffness. Morphology refers to the structure of the land. For example, slopes lose their vegetation to to fire or drought are more vulnerable to landslides. Vegetation holds soil in place, and without the root systems of trees, bushes, and other plants, the land is more likely to slide away. A classic morphological cause of landslides is erosion, or weakening of earth due to water.

Human activity such as agriculture and construction, can increase the risk of a landslide. Irrigation, deforestation, excavation, and water leakage are are some of the common activities that can help destabilize or weaken, a slope.”

Montecito, CA Mudslide
Damaged properties are seen after a mudslide in Montecito, California, U.S. January 11, 2018. | Photo by REUTERS/ Kyle Grillot

A good reason to discuss landslides is that they have been prominent in the news lately. The death toll has risen to 20 due to the landslide in Montecito, California and 3 people were reported as still missing. Torrential rainfall caused the slide which destroyed 128 homes. The 11 debris fields cover an area over 1,000 feet wide. The largest rocks displaced by the slide weigh up to 5 tons and will be extremely difficult to move.

HWY-101 Mudslide
HWY-101 Montecito, CA | Photo by noozhawk.com

Highway 101 is being cleaned up as each day trucks are filling up and hauling away tons of debris. The also need to remove debris from every creek channel and clear all bridges to be prepared for the next rainfall.

Besides unstable land the main reason for the enormity of the landslide is the wildfires that denuded large hillsides of all vegetation. When the heavy rains came there was nothing to absorb all of that moisture, so the landslide was inevitable.

Chetco Bar Fire
Chetco Bar Fire | Photo by triplicate.com

I’m sure you remember the Chetco Bar Fire in Curry county this summer. When the rain season got under way a flash flood watch and a landslide warning had to be issued due to the heavy rain that was causing serious runoff which could trigger landslides.

HWY-42 Landslide
Oregon Coos Bay-Roseburg HWY-42 Landslide 12/25/2015 | Photo by I.ytmg.com

If you are interested in where landslides and mudflows have occurred in Oregon there is a source to find out. It’s the Statewide Landslide Information Database For Oregon (SLIDO). According to the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Studies website (on Oregongeology.org) “SLIDO is a compilation of landslides in Oregon that have been identified on published maps. The data base contains only landslides that have been located on these maps. Many landslides have not yet been located or are not on these maps and therefore are not in this data base.” The map is interactive containing identified landslides in Oregon shows the location, type and other attributes related to the landslides. To use the interactive map just go to Oregongeology.com.

You might want to check the interactive map link above to see if there have been any landslides in your immediate area.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

It’s Not Just An Excuse To Have A Weeklong Sale.

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I’m sure that you have noticed all of the sales that suddenly appeared over the last week or so. What could make so many businesses from car dealers to department stores and beyond have another big sale? The answer is obvious, but is it justified? The reason given for such spectacular sales is supposed to be celebrating Memorial Day.

Memorial Day Sale
Memorial Day Sale | Image by Hometown Furnishings

I’m sorry, but that is not the purpose for which Memorial Day was declared. It is time to look back and see exactly why we celebrate Memorial Day.

Waterloo, NY
Waterloo, NY | Image by Ora-Band through big commerce.com

According to History.com Memorial Day was first celebrated in Waterloo, NewYork. “Waterloo – which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1886 – was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.” “On May 5,1868, General John Logan, leader of an organization for northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month.

General John Logan
General John Logan | Image by slideplayer.com

Here is the official proclamation Logan made “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.” Apparently he picked the date because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle and he called it Decoration Day.

In 1968 congress established the last Monday in May as Memorial Day with the passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The result created a three-day weekend for federal employees which officially began in 1971.

Arlington National Cemetery
Flags On Graves At Arlington National Cemetery | Photo by Stars and Stripes

The annual tradition of placing flags on the graves of fallen soldiers continues today and is most impressive at the Arlington National Cemetery just outside of Washington, D.C. in Arlington, Virginia.

The flag became a symbol of our nation a long time ago, but do you know how it really happened? According to the website History of the America “On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation. The resolution stated ‘Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.’ On August 3, 1949, President Harry S. Truman official declared June 14 as flag day.”

Betsy Ross And Her Flag
Betsy Ross And Her Flag | Image by Historical Society of Summerset

There is no real proof concerning the origin of the flag. It is thought by many that the flag sewn by seamstress Betsy Ross was originally designed by New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson. I have also read that Betsy Ross made more flags over time for the country. Another piece of flag trivia is that the plan was to add a stripe whenever another state was added to the union, but it was determined that the flag would become very cumbersome and too large to handle so the stripes remained at thirteen and the stars were increased each time a new state joined the union.

48 Star US Flag
US Flag With 48 Stars | Photo by Kenoticket Through presto images.net

When I was growing up the flag contained only 48 stars since Alaska and Hawaii were not states yet. They waited until both became states before changing the stars on the flag so that they would remain an even number, otherwise an odd number of stars would be difficult to arrange in rows. Now, of course, our flag has 50 stars in the blue field lined up in even rows.

Giving Out Flags
Giving Flags To 1st Graders at Awbrey Park Elementary School Eugene | Photo by Teacher Ms. Sara Justice

As I have mentioned before, I am a member of the Eugene Downtown Lions Club. One of the programs sponsored by Lions Clubs International is called Flags for First graders and I feel privileged to be the one in our club who takes the flags and gives them out to elementary school youngsters. I discuss the history of the flag and the meaning of the words of the “Pledge of Allegiance.” For our National holidays, especially the ones celebration our country’s history I make sure to fly the flag over my front porch.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Without Them The Streets Would Really Be Dangerous.

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With the headline of this column your first guess might be the police. I would agree whole heartedly with that assumption and yes the streets would really be dangerous without the police between us and the bad guys. I’m focused, however, on a more subtle issue. Have you ever been driving down a street at night and suddenly had difficulty seeing ahead of you? You are not wearing your sunglasses at night, but the streetlight ahead is not on and the upcoming side street intersection is quite dark. A pedestrian trying to cross the street or a dog approaching the intersection would be practically invisible in the darkness not covered by your headlights.

There you have my topic – street lights. We do take them for granted except when they are not working. How did people manage to travel the streets before streetlights were invented and who first put lighting on a street?

China Volcano
Haikou Volcano, Shishan Crater Cluster, China | Photo by hkhso.com

Here are the results of my research into this formerly dark subject. History of Lighting.com explains that the Chinese back in 500 BC used bamboo pipes to capture volcanic gas leaks and send them to the streets of Peking to be used as fuel for street lamps.

Roman Oil Lamp
Roman Oil Lamp | Photo by Second Life Marketplace

The ancient Romans used vegetable oil filled lamps in front of their houses. They even had slaves whose job was to make sure the lamp always had plenty of oil and stayed lit all night long.

1417 Street Lighting
Horse Carriage With Street Lighting, 1417 | Image by Grace Elliot Blog

Where do we have to go to find the first organized method of public lighting? We have to go to London, England in 1417 when Sir Henry Barton, the Mayor of London, ordered by law that all houses must hang lanterns outside at nightfall during the Winter months. When documenting Barton’s life The History of Parliament -British Political, Social & Local History states “there is no direct evidence of this.’ I imagine that leaves it up to us whether or not we believe Barton’s role in beginning public lighting in London.

Link-Boy
Link-Boy | Drawing by William Hogarth through Georgian Index

In 1524 the streets of Paris, France were illuminated by government order. The law said that all houses must have a light in the street facing window to keep the streets from being dark and dangerous. Quoting History of Lighting.com ” One more method to brighten the streets at night were “link-boys”, children servants that wealthy citizens of London paid to carry torches while accompanying them through the city (practice that was sometimes dangerous because they sometimes led their customers into dark alleys to be mugged by footpaths).” In 1667 the French Royal Government under the rule of King Louis XIV the government started installing lanterns on all streets.

William Murdoch Inventor
William Murdoch Inventor, Plaque | Photo by Blue Plaque Places

William Murdock, in 1802, for the first time illuminated the outside of the Soho Foundry in a public presentation using a gas light fueled by coal gas. Five years later the first gas lit street in London was born. It wasn’t until 1820 the the United States that the city of Baltimore, Maryland installed gas lights to brighten their streets. That also created a new job. The lamplighter’s job was to walk the streets as it dusk and light the gas street lamps and extinguish it at dawn. Lamplighters were also used back in the days of lanterns that were used as street lamps. Later developments cancelled out that occupation including the mechanism that automatically turned the gas on and ignited it, then the invention of the electric lighting system.

Pavel Yabochkov Candle
Pavel Yablochkov Candle | Image by ETHW

According to Wikipedia “The first electric street lighting employed arc lamps, initially the ‘Electric candle’, Jablotchkoff candle, or ‘Yablochkov candle’ developed by Russian Pavel Yablochkov in 1875.” “In 1876, the common council of the city of Los Angeles ordered four arc lights installed in various places in the fledgling town for street lighting. There were two drawbacks to arc lighting which included they emitted a very harsh light and they were very maintenance-intensive since the carbon electrodes burned away too quickly.

LED vs High Pressure Sodium Street Lamps
LED vs High Pressure Sodium Street Lamps | Image by PPL Electric Utility

Today’s street lighting most often uses high-intensity discharge lamps, often High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps. They have been shown to give the best illumination while utilizing the least amount of electricity.

So, the next time you’re out-and-about be thankful all of those inventors worked diligently to brighten up our lives and without them we would be driving and stumbling around in the dark.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

 

 

I Knew The Storm Was Coming Without a Weather Map.

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We all know at least one person who can predict when the weather pattern is changing even though they have never studied Meteorology. Here is a short section from my column titled ” Can Cats Really Predict The Weather” published  March 10, 2014. I gave a little sample of what this week’s topic is all about.

Animals___Cats_hairless_sphynx_cat_043892_ | Photo by www.zastavki.com
Animals___Cats_hairless_sphynx_cat_043892_ | Photo by www.zastavki.com

“Some humans can predict the weather by how their body reacts to changes in the atmosphere. Some people get migraine headaches when the weather changes in certain ways. There is a field of science that studies this relationship and it is called biometeorology. Many people with arthritis in their joints, bursitis, or rheumatism seem to be able to sense the change that is coming. I researched this phenomenon quite a few years ago and what I found out was that the change in barometric pressure can cause aches or pains in some people just before a storm approaches. The research suggested that for many it could be a combination of things that causes the sensitivity. Barometric pressure along with a change in temperature could cause a physical response in a person. It could be the pressure change along with an increase or decrease in relative humidity that triggers the sensitivity. I’m sure there are researchers out there who are studying this with the goal of seeing exactly what is going on.”

Carrie DeVries
Carrie DeVries | Photo by Carrie DeVries through Twitter page.

I am not a fortune teller, but that last sentence is the reason I chose this topic for exploration this week. A September 15, 2016 article in Spine-Healh written by Carrie DeVries was titled “How Cooler Weather Affects Chronic Pain.” The article reflects the thoughts I expressed over two years ago. ” There’s not a lot of scientific evidence showing a correlation between weather changes and chronic pain. Various studies have shown no or very slight associations between pain and weather factors like temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and wind speed. The strongest evidence points to weather’s effects on those with joint pain conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.”

Joint Pain and The Weather
Joint Pain And The Weather | Image byReinherdt Chiropractic

DeVries says that there is, however, a lot of anecdotal evidence of the connection between weather and pain. There have been studies done surveying pain sufferers and their stories of how the weather impacts their pain but from what I have found not much proof of that connection.

Joint Pain
Joint Pain | Image by Monterey Park Medical Center Arthritis Center, LA

According to cloudywithachanceofpain.com over 9,000 people are participating in a current study concerning the relationship between weather and pain. The study is open to only those who live in the United Kingdom and are suffering from arthritis or chronic pain.They also have to have a special app. for their smartphone. The app. will, on its own, capture the hourly weather conditions using the phone’s GPS. The participants record their daily pain symptoms on the app. and it compares that data with the weather data to find correlations.

Professor Will Dixon
Professor Will Dixon | Photo From His Twitter page

The research team reviewed the data collected so far at the half way point in the study. Professor Will Dixon, Professor of Digital Epidemiology at the University of Manchester’s School of Biological Sciences is in charge of the program. The current review centered on three cities participating including Leeds, Norwich and London. Here are some of their findings. ” Across all three cities, as the number of sunny days increased from February to April, the amount of time spent in severe pain decreased. However, the time spent in severe pain increased again in June when the weather was wetter and and there were fewer hours of sunshine.”

The University Of Manchester
University Of Manchester | Photo by University Of Manchester

Professor Dixon states that the early results are encouraging, but but he is urging more people in the UK to participate in the study so the results can be more definitive. Dixon says “To work out the details of how weather influences pain we we need as many people as possible to participate in the study and track their symptoms on their smartphone.” He goes on to say “Once the link is proven, people will have the confidence to plan their activities in accordance with the weather. In addition, understanding how weather influences pain will allow medical researchers to explore new pain interventions and treatments.”

I’ll be anxious to see the results of their study. As I have mentioned previously getting up-to-date research information in biometeorology is quite difficult since very little is available to the public.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

It’s Time To Remember To Keep Them Clean.

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The Willamette Valley rain year (season) has begun as of October 1st and that means we can expect storms that bring light rain or drizzle all the way to storms that can drop an inch or more of rain in a fairly short time. The beauty of the leaves changing colors can be forgotten when the leaves keep piling up in your yard.

 | Photo by
Red Maple Trees Lining Sunset Hills Cemetery | Photo by Tim Chuey

That much rain can result in street flooding especially when the storm drains get clogged up with those leaves and other debris. The city of Eugene and the City of Springfield both have leaf collection programs to help residents dispose of the leaves that are raked up. Some people recycle the leaves themselves making mulch that they spread on their gardens or flowerbeds.

Leaf Pile Begins In South Eugene | photo by Tim Chuey
Leaf Pile Begins In South Eugene | photo by Tim Chuey

The City of Eugene has a section on it’s website dedicated to the leaf collection project with the basic rules we need to follow to help do the job right. Here are the basic rules for gathering your leaves for pick up that the City of Eugene posts.

1) Keep leaves out of the bike lanes. Eugene code prohibits the obstruction of bike or travel lanes with leaves or any other debris. And, property owners are liable for any injuries or damage that result from placing materials in the street.

Leaves And Gutter
Leaves In The Street With Water In Gutter | photo by Tim Chuey

2) Wait until the weekend before the scheduled pickup date to place your leaves in the street. Leaves placed in the street too early tend to blow around or get washed into storm drains.

3) If you live on an unimproved street place your leaves where they can be reached from the roadway. Our equipment will not leave the the road’s hard surface.

4) Place leaves without obstructing bike lane or traffic. Piles that even partially block a bike lane or traffic lane can cause motorists or cyclists to swerve into oncoming traffic.

5) Keep curbs, gutters and catch basins clear to prevent flooding. If a catch basin does plug, scrape the leaves away from the grate. Be extra careful working in  traffic lanes or standing water.

6) Keep leaf piles clean. Don’t mix leaves with branches, rocks or lawn clippings because that makes it difficult to reuse the leaves for mulch or compost. Leave at least 15 feet between leaf piles and parked cars.

7) Pile leaves well away from catch basins.

8) Remove leaves from sidewalks. Wet, slippery leaves are a hazard to pedestrians.

9) Once leaf collection has occurred on your street, do not place more leaves in the street until the next scheduled round of collection.

Street Sweeper
Street Sweeper | Photo by sbtnj

10) Following collection there may be a delay when sweepers finish cleaning the street. Watch the Leaf Safety Video.

I have one extra rule that I would like to add to this list. Please don’t pile your leaves close to an intersection. The pile can obstruct the view of a driver needing to make a turn at that intersection which could cause a dangerous collision.

According to the City of Eugene’s website Leaf Program Benefits section of their website “Crews collect about 17,700 cubic yards of leaves each year. Of that total, about 8,000 cubic yards are delivered to residents to be used as mulch and compost material, 7,000 cubic yards go to community gardens, and the rest goes to commercial recyclers or are composted and used on City parkland. All the leaves picked up by Public Works crews are recycled and no leaves are taken to the landfill.” The Leaf Program starts in November so the pickup schedule is not ready yet. You can go to The Leaf Collection and Delivery Program  web page to see when the schedule is posted. Remember to keep checking the schedule because they can change the date for your area if they get ahead of or behind the posted schedule. I got caught not checking and missed a pickup last year.

I wrote this column centering on the Eugene program because I live in the City of Eugene. As I mentioned earlier the City of Springfield has a leaf pickup service also. For details on how this works in Springfield just go to the City of Springfield Leaf Pickup Program web page which describes their program and when and how they will be in picking up the leaves in the various parts of Springfield.

If you miss getting your leaves raked up by the collection dates you can also put them in your yard waste container and your waste disposal company will recycle them for you.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

And You Thought Football And Hockey are Dangerous.

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If you have paid attention to the sports news you are sure to have heard about the brain injury issue. Football players have been the victims of multiple concussions which have caused what is known as Post-Concussion Syndrome which often causes balance problems, memory issues from difficulty remembering some words to serious personality changes. If that isn’t bad enough a new affliction called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)? has been discovered. This is a serious condition in which the brain is permanently damaged and it has been blamed for many suicides among the professional football players afflicted with it.

"Concussion"
Will Smith In “Concussion” | Image by pittsburghurbanmedia.com

You may have seen or at least heard of the recently released movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith which tells the story of a doctor’s struggle to convince the National Football League to admit that the problem exists and that something needs to be done to prevent further brain injuries.

The real doctor that Smith plays is Dr. Bennett Omalu who is a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who almost single-handedly took on the NFL in the battle to help prevent the serious brain injuries in sports and particularly in professional football.

Concussion Testing
Testing Concussion Impact | Image by or-vronowcare.com

Head injuries with resulting brain damage occur notably in the sports of football, hockey, boxing, soccer and even in what many think is a much safer sport baseball. The reason for the title of this week’s column suggesting an even more dangerous sport goes way back in time.

So much for the dangers of modern-day sports. The game I first heard about in a college Geography/Meteorology course was always hazardous to the health of the players. In class we discussed the Maya culture in Central America. They had a “ball game,” if you will, that was really a killer. It was called “Pitz” in classical Maya. It seems the “sport” dates back to 1,400 B.C. and is called “Ollamaliztli” in Nahuatl and “El juego de pelota” in modern Spanish.

Great Ball Court
Great Ball Court | Photo by en.wikipediia.org

The ball court has walls made of stone that slant inward and the players apparently struck the rubber ball (a bit bigger than a soccer ball and weighing 4 kg which is 9 pounds to us) with their hips and in some versions forearms, rackets or bats.It seems the ball size varied from as small as a softball to as large as a soccer ball and could weigh up to 20 pounds. The players wore some protective gear especially around their hips.

Myan Using Hip
Maya Ball Game Using Hips | Image by educatinghumanity.com

Apparently they added a stone ring that was the goal in later ball courts.

Stone Goal Ring
Ball Court Stone Goal Ring | Photo by ancient.eu

Playing the game was relatively easy compared to what happened when the game ended. Here is a description of how the game was played from socialstudiesforkids.com: “The goal of the game was to pass the ball around, without having it touch your hands, and then get the ball to pass through one of the rings. Since the rings were so high and players were not allowed to use their hands, it was extremely difficult to get the ball through a ring. In fact, when a player did manage to get a ball through a ring, that usually ended the game. The game ended otherwise when the ball touched the ground.”

Carving Of Mayan Ballgame
Mayan Carving Of Ballgame | Image by etsy.com

The game was described as a religious experience with ritual importance. It was attended by religious leaders, government leaders and chieftains. The winners of the game were given a feast and treated like heroes. Losing was another thing altogether. The leader of the losing team was sometimes killed. The Maya believed that human sacrifice was necessary for the continued success of their crops, trade and overall health. My professor at Memphis State University (Now the University of Memphis) explained that the whole losing team could be sacrificed after important games between rival warring tribes.

Mayan Human Sacrifice
Mayan Human Sacrifice | Image pinterest.com

Socialstudiesforkids.com listed six similarities between this ball game and today’s sporting events. “1) The players were working as a team to beat another team of players, 2) The goal was to get the ball through a hoop. 3) The goal was also NOT to touch the ball with one’s hands, like soccer today, 4) Huge structures were built just for playing, 5) The games attracted very large numbers of people to watch, and 6) Gambling on who would win was common.”

We do need to continue finding ways to make contact sports safer for the participants. But, the next time you watch a football game, hockey game, baseball game, boxing match or any other physical contact sport and think that there is too much violence and we have increased the danger involved remember the Mayan “Pitz” ballgame that didn’t end with a whistle blowing, but with a ceremonial knife stuck in the losing player’s chest.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

 

Will We Ever Really Be Able To Do It?

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If you have been reading this column for any length of time I’m sure that you have noticed my interest in the subject. I have discussed some of my favorite movies at length as they connected to the topics that were discussed. I’ll give you a large hint by listing some of those movies. My all-time favorite is “The Time Machine” starring Rod Taylor. Next comes “Time After Time” starring Malcolm McDowell.

The Time Machine
The Time Machine (1960) | Image kimt.com

Time After Time
Time After Time | Image by blogspot.com

Then there are the television shows “The Time Tunnel” from 1966, Quantum Leap” from 1989 starring Scott Bakula, and of course my all-time favorite classic Star Trek episode from 1967 titled “City On The Edge Of Forever,” in which they accidentally change history. If you haven’t figured out the topic of this column yet I’ll spell it out for you. Time travel is the subject that links these movies and television shows.

Is time travel actually possible? What do today’s scientists think? The answers may surprise you. According to an article on physics.org (your guide to physics on the web) from the Institute of Physics (IOP) “Traveling forward in time is surprisingly easy. Einstein’s special theory of relativity, developed in 1905, shows that time passes at different rates for people who are moving relative to one another – although the effect only becomes large when you get close to the speed of light. If you were to leave Earth in a spacecraft traveling at an appreciable fraction of lightspeed, turn around and come back, only a few years might have passed on board but many years could have gone by on Earth. This is known as the “twins paradox,” since a traveler undertaking such a journey would return to find herself much younger than her twin.” The article states that the main problem would be getting back since you would have to travel faster than the speed of light and according to our current understanding of physics that would be impossible.

Kip Thorne
Kip Thorne | Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Through caltechy.org

One exception to what is seemingly impossible could be in the form of wormholes. If two wormholes were to move relative to one another crossing the bridge between them could take you to a different point in time.You may remember my column dated 2/14/16 concerning proof that “Albert Einstein Got It Right” discussed black holes.

Two Black Holes
Two Black Holes | Image by ligo.org

According to Caltech’s Kip Thorne his theoretical research showed that any wormhole that allows time travel would collapse as soon as it formed. There goes that idea, at least for now.

Randall Millette
Professor Ronald Mallette | Image by phys.ucon.edu

Another article, this one from April 4, 2006 written by Lisa Zyga in physics.com, discusses the work of Professor Ronald Mallette from the University of Connecticut who has predicted that human time travel will be fulfilled in this century. The professor devised an experiment based on Einstein’s equations that would monitor a time traveling neutron in a circulating beam of light. In the interview Mallette said “Einstein showed that mass and energy are the same thing. The time machine we have designed uses light in the form of circulating lasers to warp or loop time instead of using massive  objects.”

Professor Mallette's Lasers
Overview Of Professor Mallette’s Lasers | Image by connecticutimage.com

This desktop-sized piece of equipment works like this. A series of mirrors are arranged to make a circulating beam of light which is to warp around surrounding space. They will watch these normally short-lived subatomic particles to see if they exist for a longer time when placed near the beam. If they do that would mean they flowed through a time loop into the future.

Cup Of Coffee
Stirred Cup Of Coffee | Image by gettyimages.com

If that has your head spinning here is the analogy the professor uses to make it a bit easier to grasp. “Say you have a cup of coffee and a spoon, the coffee is empty space, and the spoon is the circulating light beam. When you stir the coffee with the spoon, the coffee – or the empty space – gets twisted. Suppose you drop a sugar cube in the coffee. If empty space were twisting, you’d be able to detect it by observing a subatomic particle moving around in space.”

Einstein’s theories say that whenever you do something to space you also affect time. If space is twisted then time is twisted. That means that theoretically you walk through time as you walk through space.

I’ll wrap up this topic with one last quote from Professor Ronald Mallette: “As physicists, our experiments deal with subatomic particles. How soon humans will be able to time travel depends largely on the success of of these experiments, which will take the better part of a decade. And, depending on breakthroughs, technology, and funding, I believe that human time travel could happen this century.”

Ethics
Ethics | Image by ualr.edu

I always go back to an ethical question when it comes to our development of such life-changing endeavors as time travel. Maybe the question isn’t can we do it, but should we be messing around in such unknown territory without knowing the consequences?

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

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