N.C. panel touts wind energy use

The Wright Brothers came to North Carolina for a reason!

RALEIGH — A new study released Wednesday by Gov. Bev Perdue said North Carolina had the largest offshore wind resource on the East Coast and that the state should work with industry to develop the wind energy industry.

The 15-member panel said wind energy along North Carolina’s coast and sounds offered significant opportunities for renewable energy and for job creation.

“North Carolina’s extensive coastline and large offshore wind resources appear to make it a prime area for offshore-wind development,” the panel said.

via N.C. panel touts wind energy use – Technology – NewsObserver.com.

Highlights of 2011: the tornado

Worn out but happy!

In a year full of big events, the biggest one for me was the tornado of April 16th, 2011. While the damage to our home was a 6-inch shingle, the damage to our neighborhood was significant. It also gave me a chance to really help my neighbors when they needed it.

I vividly remember growing up in Atlanta and my siblings and I being awakened by my parents and piled under a mattress in our home’s hallway as a tornado warning. The winds would howl, the rain would pound, but the tornado would remain more of an idea – an after-bedtime reason to play with my brothers and sister in the hallway – rather than a real threat. That is, until April’s tornado rolled around.

I’ve already blogged about the tornado and the cleanup efforts I participated in. Looking around the neighborhood now I see only a few homes still covered with blue tarps. Some damaged trees still abruptly end 30 feet from the ground. A ride on the Millbank section of the Crabtree Creek greenway still shocks me when I reach the path of the tornado. I dubbed that portion “Tornado Trail” and it will likely live up to that name for many years.
Continue reading

Family mountain biking

The weather was a beautiful, balmy partly sunny and 70 degrees, so we took advantage of it by heading out for the mountain bike trails at Lake Crabtree for a little exercise. We had an absolute blast!

Travis had impressed me earlier this week with the way he was riding the hills around the “creek” area after school. That showed me he might be ready for some off-road biking. Turns out not only he was ready, but Hallie as well!

We hopped off our bikes to watch people play in the field and soon found ourselves wrapped up in an impromptu soccer game with a kid and his family. Before we knew it it was approaching 5 PM and we had biked and run far longer than we ever expected we could!

It was a fantastic family day and a great antidote to the brutally-cold start we had to the week. Gotta love winter in North Carolina!

Rick Santorum’s foggy thinking

Politico is taking a look at Republican Presidential nominee Rick Santorum’s past push to restrict the National Weather Service’s ability to get its data to the public.

Weather doesn’t show up as a top issue on Santorum’s presidential campaign website, and AccuWeather doesn’t appear in his 2012 campaign donations. But some of his opponents, such as the liberal website Daily Kos, have tried to revive memories of the 2005 legislation this week — including with headlines claiming inaccurately that Santorum had tried to “abolish” the weather service.

In fact, Santorum’s failed legislation would have left the weather service intact, although with significantly reduced ability to distribute its information directly to the public.

Critics of the bill say the legislation reflects an outdated worldview — one that says government data should flow through profit-making middlemen, rather than being released freely to one and all.

I used to work at a commercial weather forecasting company, so I’m aware of the commercial value of weather data. That said, I thought in 2005 that it was stupid to make the public buy data that it’s already paid for through its taxes and I still feel that way today. Santorum’s bill was about as dumb as they come, and the fact that he didn’t see any harm in hobbling one of the most valuable government services speaks volumes about him and the type of leader he is.

via Rick Santorum’s campaign could be clouded by 7-year-old attack on National Weather Service – Bob King – POLITICO.com.

Weather station extremes for 2011

I needed to reset my weather station’s stats today which calls for a post noting the highs and lows it recorded.

Highest temperature: 106.9 degrees Fahrenheit the afternoon of 29 July 2011. Lowest temperature: 19.6 degrees Fahrenheit the morning of 23 January 2011.

Highest humidity: 96% on the morning 24 Sept 2011. Lowest humidity: 15% on the afternoon of 29 July 2011 (that’s a serious fire danger, there).

Total recorded rainfall here at MT.Net: 30.93 inches. This is well below RDU’s official tally of 43.70 inches, which is actually .36 inches above normal.

Find a summary of more significant weather events of 2011 from the Raleigh NWS office.

Cemetery cleanup

The deadly tornadic storm (seen right) retreats after laying waste to Raleigh's City Cemetery on April 16, 2011.

The tornadoes of April 16th not only tore through several neighborhoods like the one near mine, it also tore up three of the city’s historic cemeteries. Some folks in the press have complained about the snail’s pace in which the clean-up is progressing.

The truth is that the city’s parks staff would like nothing better than to have these cemeteries cleaned up. It’s just that it’s a monumental task, if you’re pardon the pun.

If you’ve lived around Raleigh for any length of time, chances are you’ve been through one of our occasional natural disasters. The first thing the city and state does after a disaster is to seek federal assistance in cleaning up. This money from FEMA comes with requirements that the city and state must meet if they expect their work to be reimbursed. Throw in a historic designation and you add yet another layer of bureaucracy that must first be satisfied.
Continue reading

Un-CERT-ain future

Remember that great, free, emergency training I received earlier this summer? It’s now an endangered species. The Raleigh-Wake CERT team is imploding, with the organization’s officers resigning left and right due to lack of funding. It’s a real shame for a program that could provide so much good in the event of a disaster (and did provide so much good in my neighborhood following the April 16th tornado).

From an announcement on their website:

Our organization is all-volunteer and has been sponsored by Raleigh Department of Emergency Management. Unfortunately, we have not had access to ANY funds for about a year now and our volunteers have provided all materials at their own expense. In addition, we were informed recently that our sponsor at Raleigh EM is now providing advisory support only.

Consequently, the President, Secretary/PIO, and Logistics officer of Raleigh-Wake CERT have resigned and as of September 26, 2011, the only standing officer will be the Planning Section Chief.

I’m trying to get some time together with Fin Cert, RWCERT’s former PIO, to find out what happened and see if I can help the org get back on its feet.

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene spent the day moving lazily up North Carolina’s Outer Banks, rolling ashore this morning and exiting into Virginia this evening. By landfall the storm had weakened to Category 1 status: just barely a hurricane. Even so, the storm cut a wide swath across the state, though reports of damage (other than power outages) seemed few. Last I heard, four people had died from flooding accidents.

I watched the TV coverage of the storm all day and then wondered why I bothered. There were only so many things one can say about Irene and after the first hour I’d heard them all. I did enjoy watching the live video uplinks from the beaches all up and down the East Coast, courtesy of my Free to Air (FTA) satellite dish. As soon as the studio would cut away from the soggy reporters getting blown around on the beach, those reporters would whip out their Blackberries.
Continue reading

Quake “foreshock” quote censored by Washington Post?

This Washington Post story ran yesterday with this quote from USGS Director Marcia McNutt (according to the International Business Times):

Minutes after the quake, the director of the USGS, Marcia McNutt — who watched objects falling from the shelves in her office — cautioned that the shaking might not be over.

“What the concern is, of course, is that this is a foreshock. If it’s a foreshock, then the worst is yet to come,” McNutt told The Washington Post.

Curiously, today the Post’s version of the article has removed that quote and substituted a much more mundane one:

Minutes after the quake, Marcia McNutt, USGS director — who watched objects falling from the shelves in her office — concerned about aftershocks, cautioned that the shaking might not be over.

“When something like this happens, remember what to do in the case of a seismic event. Duck, get under something sturdy like a desk or a doorway, get away from falling glass. Make sure that you are not in the way of falling objects like pictures, bookshelves, books, anything that’s not firmly connected the wall.”

The Post has provided no explanation for the change in the quote.

via Virginia Earthquake 2011: USGS Warns it May be a Foreshock – International Business Times.