Thursday, May 31, 2007

First Blue Moon in Nearly 3 Years Lights Up Lafayette Sky Tonight

Our first blue moon since July 31, 2004 is going to light up the night sky tonight. When you gaze at the moon tonight it will look no different than any other full moon. What makes it special is that it is the second full moon in the same month. It will be officially full at 9:04 p.m. This is a rare occurrence and thus the name, "blue moon". Two full moons in the same month only take place once every 2.5 to 2.75 years. So even if the moon is not really blue it makes it something you will not want to miss. The next blue moon for Lafayette will not be until June 30, 2007 and then after that you will have to wait until December 31, 2009.

I had to look long and hard to find a picture of a real "blue moon" and did find one. Take a look at this beautiful picture. Tom King of Watauga, Texas took this picture of a waning moon one sultry, humid night in Texas. The water particles in the air were just the right size and thick enough to make the moon appear blue. Even though our skies in Lafayette tonight will be hazy, do not expect to see an actual blue moon. Blue moon photos have also been taken in areas close to volcanic eruptions or large fires.

Tonight I do think most of us should have good viewing conditions for the full blue moon. Any pop up storms should be brief and isolated in nature. This is in stark contrast to what happened just over 3 years ago on May 30, 2004. Tonight many WLFI viewers were trying to find places to live and were cleaning up after our biggest tornado outbreak on record. The map below shows all the tornadoes in our viewing area. We were literally swarmed!

In all we had 11 tornadoes. Tippecanoe County alone had 4 tornadoes, including 2 tornadoes that collided in Dayton and later touched down in Haggerty Hills with wind speeds estimated at 150 mph destroying two homes. Peru had an F-3 tornado with a wind speed estimated at 200 mph. Here are some amazing pictures from that day we will never forget.

1 of 2 Tornadoes to Hit Dayton

Devastating Damage in Peru

Check back here on the blog later today to find out why lightning was the reason why somebody lost their life and not the tornadoes. Also make sure to join me tonight at 5,6, and 11 for the latest on your weekend forecast which is looking even better. Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hazy Skies Make it Tough to See & Breathe

The 3 H's dominate our weather once again today. It will be hazy, hot, and humid. One nice thing about the thick soupy sky is that it helps create brilliant sunrises and sunsets. Take a look at this fine sunrise just sent in. Now that is waking up on the right side of the bed.

Courtesy of Zach Chafin (Greenhill, In)

Last night we also had reports of a moonrise with 3 different colors. Shades of pink, yellow, and orange lit up the sky. This same moon can even be called a blue moon on Thursday night. It will not be named after its color but because a blue moon is defined as the second full moon in the same month. This has not happened since 2004!

Our blog question today deals with what haze actually is and how it could actually pose a health risk. Let's take a look!

Haze can also be made up of water droplets. Haze tends to build up when we have quiet weather patterns. With no strong fronts to mix up the atmosphere this builds up plenty of dust and pollution particles. This can lead to poor air quality. In fact today it is the air quality is in the unhealthy range for those with respiratory ailments. You can go outside but just do not over do it. This haze is toughest on the very young and elderly.

Here are some things you can do to help improve our air quality when we are in a hot & hazy weather pattern:

1) Wait until 6 p.m. to fill up your gas tanks or mow the lawn
2) Avoid putting your car in idle (do not go through drive-thrus)
3) Turn up your air conditioner 2 degrees.
4) Carpool and combine errands

Tomorrow we will talk about our full blue moon on the way and I actually have a picture of a blue moon to show you that was taken in Texas. We will also take a look back at the anniversary of the Lafayette areas biggest tornado outbreak on record.

Lots of Bark and Bite in Your Forecast

What a way to end the month! The may say get ready for June, but instead it feels like we are heading right into July. Get ready for the dog days of summer more than a month early this year.

As you can see the dog days are here more than a month early. It is interesting to note that the dog days are named not after the actual hot weather but the dog star Sirius. The ancient Egyptians believe this star which rises before the sun in July and August added extra heat to the atmosphere making it so hot.

The dog in this picture Stella. She is Tracy Szerencse's dog. Tracy is our 6 and 11 o'clock producer that makes us all look good on the news every night. Gina Quattrocchi agrees with the rest of our night crew that Stella acts more like a human than a dog. Stella should be the WLFI mascot! This is also a good reminder to make sure all your pets have a cool place to stay along with plenty of water to drink.

The latest maps continue to show highs near 90 the next few days due to building high pressure you see in this picture. It will do two things. Not only will it bring sticky air our way from Florida, but it will keep us mainly dry through at least Thursday. Yes, stay cool by the pool!

Even though we will not be dodging many storms the next few days there will be plenty of "bite" in the forecast. Yes! It is mosquito season and making sure you spray "deet" on is just as important as wearing sunblock this time of year. Mosquitos are now thriving in the Lafayette area because we have had twice our normal amount of rain over the last 5 days. This tends to breed mosquitos. What may surprise you is that there are two peaks in mosquito activity. One in the morning and once again during the evening. So early morning joggers beware. Notice mosquito activity will be in the very high range for the next few days during these hours. So stay cool, spray it on, and remember the sunscreen. Check back on the blog tomorrow for the third big "H" impacting our weather and that is "haze".