Saturday, November 03, 2007

Television, trains, weather and the death of a website

Just so everyone knows, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. I just haven't placed much priority on updating this blog since I've been quite busy with school since the end of August, the 2007 Wisconsin severe weather season was nil, and a hacker attack irrepairably destroyed the entire Stoughton Piston Head Society website, including the weather section and high risk archive, in mid-September.

Anyhow, I'm going to try to revive this blog with more updates and pictures from now on.

To start, here's one of me doing what I've been spending a lot of time on this semester-various work for UWGB's campus cable station, Channel 20. This is now my second semester there and in addition to editing the show "Phoenix Connexion", I am doing a lot more camera work including running cameras in the studio. Some of this semester's shows have been among the best in the show's history according to our general manager. It helps to have a great staff all around, the new producers have been much better to work with than last semester and the other editors have been putting together some great video packages for the show.

Although I started getting back into it in mid-late 2006, over the past year I have been spending a lot more time on what was for a long time not a priority hobby for me-railfanning. I liked trains as a kid but it wasn't until the last year or so that I began to actively seek them out for photography and videography. I find that trains and the scenery they travel through offer many of the same photogenic opportunities as storm chasing, plus there is the assurance that if you sit by the track long enough one will come by, whereas the same can't be said for even the best-forecasted storm chase!

Many of my train photographs can be seen at my Railroad Picture Archives contributor site, as well as a side aspect of photographing highway-rail grade crosssings and their warning devices at Mike's Railroad Crossing website.

More later.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A list of my Internet aliases

Lately it seems that every useful website requires users to create a username and profile in order to access the useful content. Everything started out all neat and cozy with the Stoughton Piston Head Society website, but now I'm leaving my stuff flung all over the far corners of the Internet. I'm creating this list in part so people that know me can find everything I've written and posted, and in part so that I can keep everything straight and don't forget where I'm registered!

This is only a partial list, I have many other accounts that I don't use anymore either because the site closed down or I found a better one to serve the same purpose.

AOL/AIM/Pogo: vespanidus
Yahoo: vespanidus
Blogger: ayearedubya (duh, you're here!)
YouTube: VespineVid2
Railroad Picture Archives dot Net: andyws/contributor Andre Wehrle
Facebook: Take a wild guess...
MySpace: darkskiesoverwisconsin
Epinions: vespanidus
Wikipedia: WISkies
Photobucket: wisconsinskies
Stormtrack Forums: Andy Wehrle Forums: Andy Wehrle
WxChat: thehumanlightningrod Forums: Andy Wehrle Forums: Andy Andy WISkywatcher AndyWS (Formerly AndyWS
Fuzzy World 3: AndyWSOR
Mike's Railroad Crossing Forum: AndyWS Andy Wehrle
Pokerstars: SilverHornet
The Poker Forum: TheVespine
Chess Exchange Forum: PxQ??
MobilEdit Forums: AW86

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Return of The (E)F5

In the early evening of May 3, 1999, a giant tornado plowed through southern suburbs of Oklahoma City, ripping numerous well-constructed homes from their foundations and reducing them to matchsticks and rubble scattered across the landscape. National Weather Service damage surveyors determined that this destruction indicated that the tornado was an F5, the highest rating possible on the Fujita Scale of Tornado Intensity.

Since that time, dozens of destructive tornadoes have roared across the United States, destroying human lives and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Among them was the Stoughton tornado of August 2005, which flattened homes just two blocks north of mine. However, none of these tornadoes produced the level of complete destruction to be assigned the highest rating. Other tornadoes ballooned to gargantuan proportions in open fields and plains, displaying violent motion to the observers indicative of extreme winds within. Perhaps if one of these tornadoes had contacted a well-constructed, anchored frame house it would have been capable of "lifting it off its foundation and carrying it a considerable distance to disintigrate", the definitive indicator of F5 damage.

On February 1, 2007, the Fujita scale was retired in favor of the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which changes the estimated windspeeds associated with each category to (probably) better reflect the actual windspeeds in tornadoes, and most importantly provides much more detailed "damage indicators" for assessing damage caused by tornadoes that contact and damage many different types of structures, vehicles, trees, etc.

The 2007 tornado season got off to a fast start, producing many destructive and deadly tornadoes, but as with the past seven years, none was quite powerful enough, quite totally and utterly devastating enough for the survey teams to assign the maximum rating.

Until May 4.

As darkness fell that evening, a rotating supercell thunderstorm rapidly intensified as it moved into southwestern Kansas. Not too unusual for spring in the Plains. But then, a huge "wedge" tornado, wider than it was tall, touched down as the storm entered Kiowa County, taking dead aim on the unfortunate small town of Greensburg and its roughly 1,500 residents. By the time it was over, eight of their number were dead, scores injured, and roughly 90% of the town completely obliterated. Not just ripped to pieces. Gone. Some survivors couldn't even locate the debris from their houses, it had been carried and scattered too great a distance. On Sunday, May 6, the NWS survey teams made the news official. This was the first EF5 tornado, the most violent windstorm on earth in just over eight years.

KAKE news
May 4 storm reports

Friday, April 13, 2007

April Snow...ugh!

Wisconsin got a considerable April snowstorm on Wednesday, April 11...the first time this has occured in several years. It's mostly melted by today, though :-).

Here are some pics I took shortly after the snow began in Green Bay:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Additional late March/early April severe weather event links

The Research Team

Group photos of myself and the other two Research Assistants working with UWGB professor Adolfo Garcia on his roommate conflict study this semester. Molly is on the left, Chelsea on the right.

Phoenix Connexion #04-04 (Season 4, Episode 4)

I finally got around to uploading screenshots from the episode that aired the week after Spring Break (March 20-25). It actually ended up airing until April 1, because some cancellations and miscommunications in the production department forced the next scheduled episode to be cancelled. The next episode (currently airing until tomorrow) is #04-05, originally scheduled for the previous week, and I am currently working on #04-06 to air starting Tuesday, April 10.

I've started putting in an overlay with the host's names at the beginning of every episode.

This episode featured a tour of the new Kress Events Center, to open fall 2007, replacing the Phoenix Sports Center. Assistant Chancellor Dean Rodeheaver (left) conducted the tour, interviewed by Channel 20 producer intern Dan Whelan (right).

An interior shot of the still-under-construction Kress Events Center.

An exterior shot.

On Tuesday, March 6, Jeff Last of the Green Bay National Weather Service Office presented a storm spotter training seminar at UWGB, as he does every spring. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to spread the word about the NWS's volunteer spotter program as well as severe weather awareness in general among UWGB students, so I videotaped the seminar to include clips from it on the show. I also conducted a short interview with Mr. Last following the seminar.

The Maintenance Tip of The Week featured tips on shower maintenance and cleanliness, including a plug for the electric shower cleaner that Dan is demonstrating here. I found this highly ironic when I edited it because my family has these in our showers at home, and I don't like them.

The studio guest was the soon-to-be departing (elections were coming up shortly) SGA (Student Government Association) President Trista Seubert.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Second major severe weather and tornado outbreak of 2007...

...developed on Wednesday, March 28 over portions of the Texas/Oklahoma panhandles, western Kansas and Nebraska, and eastern Colorado. Major March outbreaks are not unheard of (a la March 1 this year, March 12 last year, March 27, 1994 and March 13, 1990 to name a few) but what was unusual was for it to take place so far west. The other outbreaks listed all happened in either the Southeast, the Mississippi Valley, or the eastern Plains.

Wednesday marked the first highly sucessful chase day for a lot of Plains chasers, and unfortunately resulted in four deaths, numerous injuries and quite a bit of property damage. At least two tornadoes have been rated EF3, and that number will probably grow. However, it wasn't as bad as it could have been due to the relatively sparse population of the region. There were many reports of large tornadoes in open country that would have caused major disasters had they hit towns or cities.

NWS Surveys and Write-Ups
Pueblo, CO
Dodge City, KS
Goodland, KS
North Platte, NE (1)
North Platte, NE (2)
Amarillo, TX
Lubbock, TX

Storm Chaser Reports
Scott Blair
Jason Boggs
Simon Brewer
Jason Brock
Verne Carlson
Brian Emfinger
George Flickinger
J.R. Hehnly
Mike Hollingshead
Caleb Kimbrough
Amos Magliocco
Gene Moore
Eric Nguyen
Michael O'Keeffe
Russel Parsons
Putnam Reiter
Brett Roberts
Chris Rozoff
Dean Schoeneck
Jeff Snyder
Bill Tabor
Skip Talbot
Justin Walker
Dustin Wilcox

A smaller outbreak hit eastern New Mexico on March 23, and isolated tornadoes occurred on the days preceding and following March 28. Wisconsin got its first tornadoes of the year today (March 31) in the far southwestern part of the state. Links related to those events coming later...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Winter That "Roared"

Here it is March 7, and 2007 has already seen nine tornadoes rated F3 (or EF3, with the transition to the new, improved "Enhanced Fujita Scale" on February 1) and one rated EF4. More than 40 people have been killed by these tornadoes. And we thought 2006 got off to a busy start! Of course, we all know what happened then. The active pattern dried up just in time for the start of most chaser's Plains vacations.

Here are the NWS write-ups and chaser accounts on this years most significant tornado events thus far:

January 04:
Lake Charles, LA

January 07:
Birmingham, AL
Peachtree City, GA

February 02:
Melbourne, FL

February 13:
Birmingham, AL
New Orleans, LA

February 23:
Chase Report by Verne Carlson
Chase Report by Brian Emfinger
Chase Report by Roger Hill
Chase Report by Tony Laubach
Dodge City, KS

February 24:
Little Rock, AR
Shreveport, LA
Kansas City, MO
Jackson, MS

February 28:
Chase Report by Andrew Fischer
Chase Report by Michael O' Keeffe
Chase Report by Reed Timmer
Topeka, KS
Wichita, KS
Kansas City, MO (1)
Kansas City, MO (2)

March 01: (high risk day)
Birmingham, AL
Mobile, AL
Tallahassee, FL
Peachtree City, GA
Lincoln, IL
Paducah, KY
Springfield, MO
Columbia, SC

Phoenix Connexion 04-03

This week, Ben Krumholtz, regular co-host (with Tim Meylander) of Channel 20's sports talk show "On The Ball" filled in for Josh Brewer (who had taken an "early spring break") on the PC sports segment.

In this week's "Maintenance Tip of The Week", Dan (left) saved Brian's walls from certain destruction, as he stopped him from using either nails, or residue-leaving tape to hang his picture. Students are to always use tacks or poster putty.

This edition of "Phoenix Connexion" introduced a new segment, "Dining in Green Bay", to explore potential off-campus dining options for students. This week, Kristen and some guy I don't know went to Brett Favre's Steakhouse, interviewed the manager, got a tour of the restaurant and sampled the food.

Paul Harris, owner of Harris' Karate Academy, put on a self-defense seminar at UWGB. In the second screenshot, he demonstrates on a quite levelheaded assistant.

The studio guest was Sgt. Jeff Gros of the campus Public Safety department, who gave some tips on how students can stay safe over spring break.

Coming next week: A tour of the almost-complete Kress Center (new athletic facility at UWGB) and an interview (conducted and filmed by me!) with Jeff Last, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Green Bay.