Astro's Blog

[Song] Brush

By: Astrometeor, 4:25 AM GMT on June 30, 2013

So, in chat we began talking about storms. TropicalAnalystwx13 mentioned a storm that got him interested in hurricanes, a Cat 4 named Flossie.

I came up with this song, sing to the melody of Row, Row, Row your boat.

Brush, brush, brush your teeth, gently in circles. Merrily, merrily, merrily yeah.
Don't forget to floss!

The people in chat thought it stank, but hey, I don't think it was THAT bad.

P.S. I'm from Music City, USA, so music and harmonics flow through me.

Not bad right?

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Song Poem Science (general) Hurricane

[Song] Tarantulas

By: Astrometeor, 12:16 AM GMT on June 25, 2013

Everyone loves

If there's just fuzz
where your hamster was,
it's probably because of tarantulas!

^The above is a short song I learned at summer camp from a kid in the sister troop that camps with us. By the end of the week, 200 scouts had learned the song, and the 50 staffers got a taste of their own medicine.

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Summer Camp Song Poem


By: Astrometeor, 11:12 PM GMT on June 23, 2013

WEEKEND SUPERMOON: This weekend's full Moon is a "supermoon," as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2013. Last night, Alan Dyer photographed the swollen orb rising over the prairie in Gleichen, Alberta, Canada:

"After several days of torrential rain that brought horrific floods to many parts of southern Alberta, we were finally able to enjoy a clear night and the sight of the wonderful 'supermoon' rising," says Dyer. "[It] reminded us that the sky brings beauty as well as destruction.

The scientific term for the phenomenon is "perigee moon." Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon's orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side ("perigee") about 50,000 km closer than the other ("apogee"). Full Moons that occur on the perigee side of the Moon's orbit seem extra big and bright.

On June 23rd, the Moon becomes full at 11:34 UT, only 23 minutes after it reaches perigee. This near-perfect coincidence makes the Moon "super."

It's true that a perigee full Moon brings with it extra-high "perigean tides," but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this is nothing to worry about. In most places, lunar gravity at perigee pulls tide waters only a few centimeters (an inch or so) higher than usual. Local geography can amplify the effect to about 15 centimeters (six inches). The much greater flooding in Calgary was caused by rainfall, not by the perigee moon.


Get more space news at:

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Space Science (general)

[Poem] Holocaust

By: Astrometeor, 8:25 PM GMT on June 22, 2013

This is a poem that I made about 1.5 years ago for my English II class.

***Note: Dedicated to Elie Wiesel***

You were arrested
for what you believe
They searched your house
looking for Bibles
like a dog looking
for a bone.

They arrested your children
and killed two
because they stuck to their faith
like two strips of Velcro.

They arrested you again
and sent you to a concentration camp.
You still clung to your faith
and your daughters
and eventually,
you won
because of your determination
to your faith.

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Miscellaneous School Poem

[Poem] Heartbreak

By: Astrometeor, 7:45 PM GMT on June 22, 2013

Here's a poem that I came up with awhile ago that I have just been now been able to type up. Enjoy!

What a pity for those in the city
who do not learn to appreciate
the beauty of nature.

Lush forest greens
where the mountains touch the sky
dreams come true
I'll be there when I die.

Cynicism. Worry. Consternation.
And for what?
For a material item
which one soon forgets?

Why not love?
So pure, so thoughtless, so mindless.
Love is kind, love is gentle.
Without it, what are we?
Animals? Devils? Nothing?

To fall in love requires courage.
Strength, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness.
But this is not my love.

Love is being a friend.
Love is tossing selfishness.
Love is stepping up to help,
and doing what is right.

Wretched is the one
who falls in love
with another who doesn't love.

To live without knowing
is to live in terror.
For the one who knows,
total control.

And for that,
what is the solution?
Hurt and pain?

What a pity for those in the city
who do not appreciate
the beauty of nature.

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Summer Camp at Boxwell Reservation

By: Astrometeor, 7:27 PM GMT on June 15, 2013

Next week I will not be in a place with internet connections, sorry. I leave Sunday morning and will not return until Friday evening.

Boxwell Reservation is a top-tier Boy Scout Reservation dedicated to serving young men and training them in various activities designed to prepare them for the future and its challenges.

I will be spending my time in 4 classes.
Rifle Shooting
NRA Light Rifle
Mammal Study
So, yeah, just a heads-up to my fellow bloggers here!

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Summer Miscellaneous

Education for Them Little Ones

By: Astrometeor, 5:48 PM GMT on June 14, 2013

Weather Service Casts Its Line to Educate Children

The Annual Catfish Rodeo was held at Shelby Park, in
East Nashville, on June 8, 2013. This event provides
an opportunity for up to 600 kids to fish free at Lake Sevier, inside the park, and to learn about water resources.

It is sponsored by the Cumberland River Compact and
creates a fun educational enviornment, often including folks from Metro Water Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), the National Weather Service, and others. All these agencies participated in a scavenger hunt where children learned about all sorts of things dealing with water, wildlife and river systems. Educational booth topics included fishing, boating and water education activities.

Each time a child participated in an educational opportunity at one of the established booths, they received a unique stamp on their Cumberland River Watershed Map. One such map, held by an industrious rodeo participant, is shown below:

Following is a picture showing National Weather Service Hydrologist James LaRosa demonstrating the flood plain model to several rodeo participants:

NWS Source

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Poem: Tornado Tragedy?

By: Astrometeor, 2:45 AM GMT on June 14, 2013

Here is a poem I wrote 1.5 years ago for my English class:

Hot, humid summer day in Camp Boxwell
Emergency Prep class under a canvas canopy
BOOM! Crash of thunder!
Check of radar, lots of red
truck horn blaring, alarms ringing, people running
to the safety of the Bat Cave.

Rain pouring, winds howling, people yelling,
arrival at safety.
We are herded like cattle
squished into positions
staff singing
stupid camp songs
trying to entertain.

Sitting, waiting, smelling
the wet,ancient, musty scent
of this prison.
Garage door in Bat Cave opened
Aah! Refreshing air!

Finally, we are released
from this captivity
little by little
very little damage
the storm passed
we are safe!

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Poem Tornado Summer

Bring on the Heat

By: Astrometeor, 4:33 PM GMT on June 11, 2013

Ninety Degree Weather a Little Slow to Arrive this Year

Photo Credit: Bobby Boyd

Will today be the day Nashville finally hits 90 degrees?

During an average year, the temperature at the Nashville airport would have already hit 90 degrees. In fact, we're running about two weeks behind schedule in getting a good blast of summer heat. the average day of the first 90 degrees in Nashville is May 29th.

Since record keeping began back in 1870 the latest in the year that Nashville has reached the 90 degree mark was July 5th 1893. The earliest was April 9th 2011.

NWS Source

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Tornado Prep in Schools

By: Astrometeor, 4:59 AM GMT on June 11, 2013

See full discussion at wxchaser97's blog

Quoting weatherh98:
I've gone through warnings at my school a couple of times, we usually just sit there on our phones (I'm looking at weather stuff to make sure it isn't a real tornado)

For example this year, on a tornado warned cell, we sat on the 3rd story of a building. Not good. I knew obviously there was no tornado, but the rotation passed almost directly over my location. Had there been a stronger rotation I probably would've ran down the stairs and gone under the stairwell on the first floor (of course the teachers who know next to nothing about weather probably would've given me a detention)

That also brings up another point in that most educators don't know how to recognize severe weather events, so when it happens they are completely in the dark and don't know what's happening when they tell us what to do (leads to a bad combo)

We have the same issues here. Every tornado warning they put us in the hallways, but only if the storm is "really bad" (some people's ideas of 'bad' is lightning) will they move students to the lower floors and interior rooms.

Although, we do have tornado drills once a month as required by state law.

Other than teachers and admins having no clue on how to discern weather or other reasons like: that a tornado warning on the opposite side of the county will never hurt us....
What I struggle with is students, fellow peers who mock the teachers after given an order to do something. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, right? I wish my classmates realized this before they committed to their irresponsible behaviors. To me, that deserves detention.

Quoting MississippiWx:
Get them, Isaac. Lol. Seriously, though, I am very shocked to read that your school doesn't make the students go to the lowest level for protection. Being on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the most basic rule for tornado preparedness. That is disappointing and I hope that you can lead a program that causes them to change their plans.

Only time we have ever done interior rooms is when a hailstorm was about 10 miles to the south...which apparently was the same storm that was issued a tornado warning, yet we only took shelter AFTER the sirens had turned off and the warning was canceled.

Quoting wxchaser97:

Since we don't do enough practice, we certainly aren't perfect. There could be panic and chaos since we might not remember what to exactly do. I know nothing is absolutely perfect, but if there is a good amount of practice everything can go closer to plan.

We get around 10 practices in each year, and sometimes a real drill or two during the spring.
BUT, let me tell you something Isaac, chaos will always ensue no matter how prepared you are. Even if the tornado doesn't strike your school. When I was in 4th grade, they passed out candy to try to calm us, as there were hundreds of us crying as we were told that a tornado (F3) had passed 1/4 mile away and that some of our homes were likely gone.
The only purpose to practicing the drills is the hope to keep the students physically safe. Emotionally safe is another issue. Whenever we get warned during school even today, I get flashbacks of seeing the damage, of seeing my peers bawling on the floor, and then, not seeing them for weeks because their homes were no more.

Quoting wxchaser97:

As for the schools themselves, they are both 2 story buildings and they are both aging. Construction on both of them was most likely in the middle of the 1900s(1940s-1960s). This means that they aren't built up to the latest MI building codes and aren't as strong as they could be.

My high school was built in the 1930s. Yet, it is probably one of the strongest schools in the area, even though it is aging severely, just from the construction of the building. Concrete brick, multi-story building, with a basement (that should be cleaned...), the place should be quite strong. Try to see what your school is made out of in the walls, remember that back then, we didn't use cheap building materials or do things like staple the roof on like we do today.

Besides, MI codes? You saw how well OK's code laws did for them, perhaps a more substantive approach would be to do reform in coding for homes and buildings like Florida and California have done for their respective issues.

Another thing on this topic, there was a school struck a couple of years ago by a tornado (wish I could remember the name), where the walls just fell over. The tornado itself did very little damage, all it had to do was push the walls (which most likely weren't constructed well) over onto the children and the result was that many lost their lives. If the construction of the school hadn't been shoddy, many of those kids would still be with us today.

Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I hope our school is never hit by a tornado, because nobody would know what to do. Most of our classes are spent in outside trailers instead of the main [brick] building. We've had occasional tornado drills, but all the principal makes us do is go to the hallway, sit down for five or so seconds, and then go back to class.

Well, of course no one knows, you have never been struck by a tornado. No 5-minute sit down and wait "practice" will ever prepare anyone, let alone teenagers, for the full-blown emotional, mental challenge that is a natural disaster. For a real tornado, the principal will order everyone to the school's safe zones. So, that would mean for your school, no one in the trailers, everyone to the main building.

//end rant

Feel free to add comments, most of the post is from a quote I gave in one of wxchaser97's blog posts (see link at top).

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Comparison between Millersville University and Penn State University.

By: Astrometeor, 9:10 PM GMT on June 05, 2013

Let me start off with two things in one. My AP English teacher's favorite phrase; the "blatantly, stupidly obvious" difference is the size of the two schools. Penn State is huge. I have never even heard of a university having 18 satellite campuses (around that number). Big school, a lot of people, a lot of noise. Not my style. I attend what is considered a rather small high school, about 180 in my class. So, big is something I am definitely not used to and is possible outside of my comfort zone. Millersville, however, is much smaller. For one comparison, it takes a whole city to support PSU. Millersville, on the other hand, fits snugly within a neighborhood it seems.

The meteorology departments. Again, size. While Penn State was big and impressive and had more gear than Millersville, MU just has that glow to it, the attraction of 4 professors, a world-renowned program, and undergrad research opportunities. PSU says that they offer all of those, albeit with around 35 professors, I just feel they are a little more disconnected from the students and from the professors. Big school = more work for faculty = less time to teach = less possibilities for students.

Plus, it's a bad sign if the head professor broke up with your high school Latin teacher when the two attended college together. o_O But, he said he would be stepping down at the end of next year, so I will never get to experience him except for the conversation we had at my visit. Turns out, he remembered her, she's still single, but he's happily married. LOL. Anyways, his fascination with weather was with environmental effects with regards to air pollutants and chemicals.

Financial Aid. PSU is the richer school of course, but MU is much more cheaper. PSU's tuition is something like $26,000 compared against MU's $17,000. So, combined with scholarships and my college fund that my parents set up when I was born, I would have a much easier time with paying off tuition at MU than at PSU.

All my thoughts for now, if I have more I will update this post.

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Storm Chasing

By: Astrometeor, 8:55 PM GMT on June 05, 2013

Quoting Brandon Sullivan:
I messed up.. As someone who has worked years to pave a road to a career in the NWS, I messed up.. Myself, The Titans... None of are inexperienced or reckless.. Never have been, never will be.. But that said, I messed up today. I usually call the shots and I kept us there too long.. Although I am not officially associated with NWS or any affiliates, I must apologize to my colleagues in the offices and agencies.. I've worked hard to uphold the core mission of protecting life and property, but I let adrenaline and desire for the shot get to me today. A sincere apology to all those professionals who dedicate their daily lives to keeping people safe. I will keep chasing, but with a new and humbled approach.

I personally have two issues with the new-found debate on tornado chasing. The first is with tornado tours. I personally think that those shouldn't happen, the people putting these tours up are only making monetary gains and are contributing in no way to society. Plus, in a severe storm like El Reno, these tours clog up the roadways and make it difficult for emergency crews to respond to calls for help. If you are not a scientist or a professional chaser or an authority, please stay home and listen to instructions handed out by the NWS. There is no point in chasing storms for "adrenaline" or for money. No point when compared against people's lives.

The second issue is with people criticizing the real storm chasers. These people, such as Tim Samaras, Reed Timmer, the OUN, Sean Casey, are there to collect data on the vicious storms, report back to the NWS on the location and strength of the tornado in real time, and save lives. To call them reckless is to show a disregard for the importance of their missions and to unfairly attack those who try to save your own life. These chasers are good Samaritans and should be rewarded as such, not viciously snarled at by people who have no right or position to say anything on the topic and should respect these men and women for their services to the country. I am not sure if I have heard of this level of venom against a group of people helping their country since the end of the Vietnam War and the level of disrespect against the returning soldiers.

Brandon Sullivan, I believe, was not actually in the tornado itself, otherwise his car wouldn't have fared so well. Some experts have said the RFD or perhaps inflow to the tornado was responsible for rolling those hay bales and destroying the roof of the barn in his video.

However, I do believe that Brandon was too excited during that chase and I understand his apology to the community. Clearly, as shown in his video, perhaps too much adrenaline was flowing through him at the time. A deep breath could've helped him out quite a bit by the looks of it. Or perhaps Brandon doesn't do well in high-stress situations, I do not know.

Thanks for reading and feel free to offer commentary below.

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Sequester's Effects and NWS

By: Astrometeor, 8:54 PM GMT on June 05, 2013

May 31, 2013

To All Employees,

The events over the past week, including more devastating tornadoes tonight in Oklahoma and Missouri, remind us how important every single employee within NOAA is to the health, safety, and well-being of this nation. I want to thank you all for continued commitment and dedication even in times of danger to your lives, families, and property. The work you do truly is important to each and every American from coast to coast.

That is precisely why I'm pleased to report that this evening the Department of Commerce transmitted a plan to Congress that will avoid all furloughs in NOAA. This was possible because of an increase in flexibility in how we use our funding within the Department.

Because of this new development we are canceling our intent to furlough all 12,000 of our employees.

As you all know, sequestration required NOAA to make significant cuts to its budget for the remainder of this fiscal year. We had to make some painful decisions and choices -- but all of those decisions were aimed at mitigating effects on our critical missions and services, and our employees. We have implemented a hiring freeze, limited travel and training, and cut grant and contract funding, in addition to many others.

For weeks, we have been working diligently to present a plan that represented the best way to ensure that we met these goals within the financial resources we have been given. When we initially received our appropriation in late March, some of our colleagues were facing up to 10 days of furlough, while others were facing up to 20. This was neither acceptable nor executable. Therefore, we looked for every other option possible to manage through these serious fiscal challenges, including the proposal we have been communicating with all of you this past month.

While this new plan allows us to avoid furloughs, sequestration remains an ongoing challenge. We must all continue to scrutinize every expense and prioritize our most critical missions and essential operations.

I know the past two months have been difficult and uncertain. Our number one priority during this time was to protect our mission and our employees. I'm glad that the Department was able to support this goal. I will continue to share information as I am able and encourage your Line and Staff Office Directors to do the same.

Thank you --


This announcement gives me an opportunity to look at the sequester. In magnitude, the sequester cut less than 0.01% of the budget and didn't reduce our debt. Inside the NWS, NHC, NOAA, things possibly could have been cut that were not employees, although frankly, a day off during a sunny day wouldn't have affected anybody. Of course, the sequester was supposed to be a motivation to Congress to address our spending issues and attempt to cut back before the sequestration ever started. That didn't happen. Another issue, take for example the FAA cuts with the control towers. Did you know that the FAA has an operating surplus of 2.5 billion dollars? They don't get ANY money from Congress at all, therefore the sequester doesn't apply to them, unless an order from the executive is handed out ordering so. Our nation's debt is an extreme issue, and if we do not solve it, there could be a cutback to essential programs, such as the NWS, NHC, NOAA, etc. This should not happen. And we can not afford to let it happen. Everyone in the world relies on our satellites to perform perfectly. But, look at the polar satellites, some estimate only a couple of years left in the operational abilities of those satellites, the same ones instrumental in giving the ECMWF the info needed to accurately predict Sandy's track days out. Currently there is no money available to replace these spacecraft, nor is there any plans to do so.

Thanks for reading guys.

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The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.