Archive for September, 2011

John a Hurricane & Typhoon
September 21, 2011


Besides setting these records, Hurricane John (that formed in the Eastern Pacific Ocean) was one of only a handful of hurricanes that crossed the international dateline and moved into the Western Pacific Ocean.  Western Pacific cyclones are named typhoons, so once John moved that far west it was re-named Typhoon John.  Despite the long journey, John never made landfall and only caused minor damage to Hawaii.   


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Measuring Humidity with Hair
September 20, 2011


Before modern meteorological measurements, humidity was measured using hair. In 1783 Swiss scientist H.B. Saussure invented the hair hygrometer. It’s similar to the image above. As the relative humidity increases, hair becomes longer, and as the humidity drops it becomes shorter. On very humid days, your hair actually becomes longer and this extra length causes the frizziness that gives us bad hair days. This instrument uses strands of human or horse hair with the oils removed attached to levers that magnify a small change in hair length. Red hair works best. An ink pen and rotating cylinder, known as a hygrograph, can provide a record of how relative humidity varies throughout the day. The disadvantages of the hair hygrometer and hygrograph are that they are not as accurate as other kinds of hygrometers such as the sling psychrometer. Also, a hair hygrometer needs frequent adjustment and calibration. Hair hygrometers also tends to have large errors at very high and very low relative humidities. You can get your “haircast” forecast at:

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We Have a Winner!
September 16, 2011

Congratulations to Connie.  Her comment, “It’s all fun and games until someone finds the lid” won our first squirrel watch caption contest.

Dust Bowl Fires
September 9, 2011

This question was brought to you by the students at the Continuum Academy & Learning Center in Livingston.  They visited me at the station and presented their research on Texas droughts in the last 100 years.  They explained how the Dust Bowl of the 1930s would not happen today because we learned from our mistakes of taking  land for granted.  They also shared how there were almost no fires during the dust bowl because of the blowing sand.  Sand puts out fires.  With the abuse of the land there also wasn’t a lot of vegetation or grass to burn.      

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Smoke in Houston
September 8, 2011

Smoke in Houston this morning from the fires in Magnolia. North to Northeast winds around 5mph moved the smoke along the 59 freeway. Similar to fog, the smoke hugged the ground with the cool temperatures. The smoke will rise as the temperatures warm. (Warm air rises). But if you suffer from asthma or are sensitive to poor air quality stay inside. Ozone watch in effect mostly likely thought the weekend.

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The Peak of Hurricane Season
September 7, 2011


Simply put, ocean waters are at their warmest in the month of September.  Other factors play an important role in hurricane formation but the number one ingredient is warm ocean waters. 

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Southeast Texas Wildfires
September 6, 2011

Photo by: Kriss Parker, Near Columbus

She says it looks like the devils face.

Photo by: John Feigal, Bastrop

Storm in the Gulf, A Child’s Finger Paint
September 1, 2011

Owen Conflenti described the forecast tracks of what will become tropical storm Lee as a child’s finger painting.  Here’s what happening:  There aren’t any steering currents, so the storm is free to move where it wants.  It’s general motion is northwest into Louisiana; but notice once it gets close, the models move it east, west or south.  A trough may move it east, or high pressure in the Rockies may push it west.  A front moving into Texas may make the motion more southerly.  The lack of consensus illustrates how truly weak all of the steering currents are.     

Our model, that is exclusive to KPRC Local 2, shows Lee as a strong tropical storm or hurricane hitting Central Louisiana.  From here it would move back over water, turn right or turn left.  In this case, our exceptional drought and fire danger would continue. We would not get much rain unless it travels west after Sunday.     

The problem with storms that have a lack of steering and are slow-moving is it can bring a tremendous amount of rain.  Our model shows 10 inches along the southern Louisiana coast through Sunday.  Notice how we don’t have a drop on this track.