Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nature Gives Us a Treat in the Lafayette Sky in Time for Halloween

A Big Thank You to Bill Snyder!

Hi Mike,

It was taken in my backyard here in West Lafayette. I do a lot of astrophotography in my backyard. I live just on the edge of town so the sky for me is pretty dark except in the south as that looks back towards town.

I don't know if I've ever sent you my web site but if you're interested you can look around at some of my other astrophotography work.

I just happened to walk in from the telescope and caught the broadcast tonight at 11. I was proud to see my image being used. I am glad you liked it so much!
I saw that big bucket of candy your kids collected. I wonder though who will eat the most, the kids or mom and dad... :-)

After the broadcast I was back out at the telescope taking some more images. I've attached a color image I took with my Nikon camera that I think you will like. The other image I sent you was taken with a specialized camera for astrophotography that is black-and-white. I had to fight the high level thin clouds that were moving in though. They really started to affect the seeing, but if I waited I could get a clear enough spot to snap some pictures.

Enjoy the images and keep your eye on this comet. Who knows what it well do next.

All the best,

This comet known is doing things never before witnessed by astronomers so I am glad we have Bill keep a close eye on it for us. Bill has a very impressive web-site you can click on as well. Check out the link above. It will certainly be a Happy Halloween after receiving this picture. Comets are also called "dirty snowballs" because they are a mixture of ices (both water and frozen gases) and dust that for some reason didn't get incorporated into planets when the solar system was formed. This makes them very interesting as samples of the early history of the solar system. In 1993, we did not have dirty snowballs in the sky but actually snow flurries reaching the ground. It is hard to believe this year we will be about 30 degrees warmer. Balmy breezes today will help highs rocket up to near 70. This will be nature's exclamation mark on one of Lafayette's warmest Octobers on record. Here is the impressive list we have made.

I want to thank Sam Shea of the Midwest Climate Center for his help. We both checked out the past 111 Octobers and 2007 once again made its mark with unusually warm weather. The interesting part to remember about our weather here in the Midwest is that when we have abnormally warm Octobers, we have a better than 70% chance of a warmer than warmer winter. So I do think this will hold up this year and we will save on our heating bills.

Tonight, trick or treaters will have a nice mild start, but the earlier you can go with the kids the better. We have a sunset at 6:46 p.m. and a cold front will move through by 7 p.m. We will have a few sprinkles but the big story will be the plummeting temperatures. We could drop from 65 degrees at 6 p.m. to 55 degrees by 8 p.m. with ghostly breezes. So get out early and get those treats before nature tries to play a trick on you with the temperatures. Remember we will have way more chocolate and Elmos running around than raindrops, but just bring the umbrellas in case a few light showers and sprinkles pop up. The picture of Lauren was taken last night and she was all ready to go trick or treating. You should have seen her face when we tried to tell her she has to wait another day.

I do not want anybody to be caught out in the rain so make sure to tune in tonight and I will have more on this with Live Doppler 18. There is way too much candy in the Prangley household at this time. So remember when you see me bouncing around on your television screen a little more than I usually do, it is the chocolate. Beware of the weatherman. I have issued a chocolate and werewolf advisory as a result. I will be howling tonight about cooler weather as we head into November. I will also have more details on the winter weather workshop held at the National Weather Service on Tuesday. Do they agree with me on a warmer winter? Do they think we could still see not only big snows but ice storms? The answers will be coming your way here on the weather blog and newscasts. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Golden Snow Shovel Contest Has Begun Despite 70s Back in the Forecast

I wanted to thank Mad Mushroom Pizza for once again providing the pizza and being our big sponsor. It was a lot of fun last year and you all know that I already have my snow shovel ready for this year! Our first inch of snow usually does not arrive until late November and early December, but this year could be different. That is the only hint I will give you. Remember the one inch of snow has to accumulate here at WLFI. I am looking at the measuring stick right now with a big smile on my face. So if you are spooked by snow here is your chance to get back at the weatherman. In addition to getting a free large pizza every week of the year with two toppings, I will also shovel your driveway for you. For those that do not know, I absolutely love shoveling snow. This is because of a childhood that included several dozen snowstorms that always seemed to miss Bowie, Maryland by about 40 to 60 miles. It was heartbreaking. At least I cannot make up for some lost time here in my new adopted home in Indiana. Let the contest begin!

We certainly do not have to worry about snow this week with temperatures roaring toward 70 today and tomorrow! What a month it has been for warm weather. We very well may go from summer straight into winter. I will have more on this tonight and of course your Halloween forecast. Right now we still have a chance of spooky showers and a howling wind. Sunset will be at 6:46 p.m. with temperatures falling into the middle to upper 50s by 8 p.m. which is unusually mild for this time of year. I do not see much rain with most areas receiving less than .05" of an inch. I think spooky sprinkles would better describe the trick or treat forecast which still looks more like a treat. My daughters are going as Hannah Montana, Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz), and maybe a 50s girl. So it is a good thing the weather is cooperating. I do not want to be the grinch for Halloween that is for sure. I could go as partly cloudy with a chance of showers like I did last year. We will have to wait and see.

But just when you thought there was nothing too scary in the forecast, you may want to beware of a fuzzy eerie-looking light in the northeastern sky the next few nights. A special thanks to Purdue professor Van Neie for straightening this out for all of us.

I left you a phone message earlier this evening. In the north sky, below and slightly to the east of the constellation Cassiopeia in the constellation Perseus, is the comet 17P/Holmes. It has recently "exploded" and is visible to the naked eye. However, through binoculars it is a big fuzzy ball, easily seen against the pinpoint stars. More information and pictures can be had at
Van Neie
Emeritus Prof of Physics Education

Since we will be clear once again this evening make sure to take a look at this beautiful sight in the sky. The picture above is what it looked like in Easton, Pennsylvania a few nights ago. It has literally exploded and is a millionfold brighter than it once was and you can see it without a telescope. Scientists are scrambling to find out exactly what happened and have never witnessed this before to this magnitude.The interesting part in this picture is the comet looks like it has eyes. But those eyes are really stars in the background that are being partially covered by the comet's fiery snowball. A special thanks to Van Neie for bringing this beautiful sight in the sky to our attention.

It does look like a Happy Halloween, but it could propel us into the record-books by making it one of the warmest Octobers on record. Where will we stack up and does this usually mean we will have a mild winter or a cold and snowy winter? I will have more answers here on the weather blog tomorrow and tell you more about what went on at the National Weather Service Winter Workshop today. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Happy Homecoming & Finish to October

It may have been a cloudy day, but as expected it did not rain and my daughters and wife above all had a great time at Ross-Ade Stadium! One of the many reasons that this is a great place to live are these wonderful autumn weekends full of great Big Ten football. It was a Happy Homecoming that included Neal Armstrong on hand to help lead the "You Make Me Want to Shout" song at the end of the 3rd quarter. It is not every day that you can say you got to hang out at the stadium and sing with the first man on the moon. To cap off a great afternoon, I had all of my girls with me as you can see. They are on "fall break" and I think they really enjoyed staying in town and going to the game. Their favorite part of the experience was of course the famous Purdue Marching band.

The World's Largest Drum made its way into the stadium with about 500 alumni from the Purdue Marching Band. It was a sight to behold. The alumni band included our very own videographer from TV-18, Nathan Caldwell. They certainly had us "rocking around the clock" at halftime and would have made the Comets proud. The icing on the cake was that Purdue came back to win 35-17 over Northwestern scoring the last 21 points of the game in the last two quarters. They are not just "bowl eligible". The question is will the Boilers be playing on New Year's Day. I think if they win 2 of their last 3 games, they without question should expect to bring in New Year's Day with a big bowl victory.

Thanks to: Elizabeth Johnston

Here is what it looked like in Flora over the weekend. It looked like it snowed overnight. Of course it did not, but that was some thick frost. We had our first frost and freeze of the season as forecast both Saturday and Sunday nights. It came 15 days later than last year. It was not too far away from the all-time latest freeze on record in Lafayette which was set on November 13, 1946. This time of year is known for its ups and downs so it does look like things will in fact rebound very quickly. Make sure to tune in for this tonight and I will tell you why "lifeguard" costumes will be in this year for Halloween.

Blog Question of the Day: When is our first chance of snow?

It still does look like our first snow will be the second week of November. Now I am not guaranteeing any accumulations at this point, but I do expect our first snowflake sightings between November 9th and 12th with a huge dip in the polar jet stream moving our way. Temperatures in Canada are falling quickly with our shorter days and it is helping a mighty hefty polar air mass to build. So you may want to enjoy our highs near 70 the next couple of days while you can. We will also take a close look at your trick or treat forecast tomorrow on the blog and a golden shovel contest you will not want to miss on

Friday, October 26, 2007

Green Tree Ladies Order Us A Nice Weekend, Which Includes Space Shuttle Flybys

One of the biggest and best parts of my job is going to visit school, rotary clubs, and assisted living homes. Yesterday I met some of the nicest folks you will ever meet at Green Tree! They put their order in for a nice homecoming weekend and I had no choice but to oblige. A special assist goes to nature for helping to kick out a loopy low by Saturday afternoon which will help us dry out for all those plans. It is amazing that this is the same storm that brought Lafayette nearly an inch of rain earlier in the week. Take a look at this track. Usually you only see this type of track from hurricanes or tropical storms. This low pressure will drift over us tonight, but will be finally kicked out of here by a cold front on Saturday morning, helping to dry us out Saturday afternoon and Sunday!

The ladies told me they watch WLFI TV-18 during severe weather because we are the only station that focuses on where they live and lets you know what will be happening instead of what already happened. This did make my day, but I also told them that they have not seen anything yet. There are plans to show weather like its never been seen before here in Lafayette. It certainly will be a happy new year as we all bring in 2008. But will this winter be like? That was the big question. I told them I still think we will not have to worry about bitter cold weather, but watch out for possible severe thunderstorms, heavy snow, heavy rain, and a major ice storm risk. Our weather is matching up right now with the volatile 1930s through the 1960s. Those years had many hot summers and plenty of snowy and stormy winters. Speaking of snow, I have been tracking snow in Alaska this week. A couple weeks ago I showed you Barrow, Alaska that was bare and had no snowcover. Now it is full of snow. Take a look at the Barrow Sea Ice Cam!

Northern Hemispheric snow cover in the important higher latitude area I track is now up to 8 percent and growing. This compares to a snow cover of about 12 percent this time last year. The more snow cover you have in October the more bitter air masses that tend to build as you head through the winter. So I think I am on track with the temperature forecast being much warmer this winter. But as I told the Green Tree ladies you do not want to get too excited. I still think we could get pounded with plenty of classic winter storms that your grandparents used to tell you about. I think we could see our first snowflakes of the season between November 6th and 11th which is about average for our area.

This weekend we have a big one! Everybody is coming to town for homecoming and the fall foliage is peaking. Here is the latest map just for you! I do think if you are heading to Brown County that the best viewing will be both this weekend and next weekend. We are running a good two weeks behind last year. There will be many campers and it looks like they will be in for a treat. But make sure to bundle up and take some extra blankets. Once our loopy low moves east of our area, a Polar high pressure will take over the second part of the weekend bringing chilly weather and likely our first widespread frost of the season by Sunday morning. By Monday morning I cannot rule out lows in the upper 20s with a frost and freeze. This will help allergy sufferers and help rid us of those mosquitoes! It will be our second latest freeze on record since 1955. Remember in 2005 we had our latest freeze in the last 50 years on October 29th. Here are more stats for you!

Better late than never for some real autumn weather. We are running about 3 weeks behind schedule and then some on the first freeze. No wonder our leaves will be peaking into the first week of November.

The leaves will not be the only great sight this weekend. The space shuttle will be flying over Lafayette again and I will make sure to post those times for you by later today. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND AND HAPPY FALL BREAK TO ALL THE KIDS. I better go chase after mine!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Unusually Bright Moonlight Lights Up the Boo at the Zoo

Courtesy of

If you thought the moon was a little brighter and bigger than normal last night you were right. The picture above shows how much bigger it looked compared to average. A lot of folks around the area were amazed at how bright the moon was including Gene and Charlotte in Monon. The moon will not officially be full until tonight and it is called the Full Hunter's Moon. Last night, the moon actually looked 14% bigger and 30% brighter due to its elliptical orbit around earth. Most people think the moon orbits in a perfect circle around earth when in fact its orbit is very uneven. As a result of this last night the moon was actually 30, 000 miles closer to earth than it normally is. An astronomical term for this is perigee. It is the closest the moon comes to the earth in its orbit. Perigee has been known to cause unusually high tides when coinciding with the full moon! Luckily, we did not have to worry about any tidal flooding here in Indiana last night, but this was not the case up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States. So we actually had the best of both worlds. No flooding and just a beautiful sight to behold.

But do not let your guard down. The big bad wolf has been spotted at Columbian Park. It must be time for the Boo at the Zoo. It runs through Friday night from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. It is always fun going on the train ride. The good news is even though the wolf will try to blow the pigs house down, nature will ease up on the wind tonight and it should be a pleasant evening with only a few passing sprinkles. I do not think the weather will keep Humpty Dumpty from being put back together again and the Gingerbread Man will not want to run away. So get out and enjoy. It is always a lot of fun for the family and I am sure you will see me and the kids running around.

It may be a little spooky at times at the zoo tonight, but nothing too scary for the little ones. I think our latest weather maps are much scarier. They even look a bit haunted. Now I know when weird and strange things happen everybody likes to blame the full moon. But remember the moon has no impact on our weather. What does impact our weather are low pressure areas. We have a once in a blue moon low pressure area tracking to the northwest. It is cut-off from the westerlies or the upper-level winds that usually move our weather from west to east here in the Midwest.With the counter-clockwise rotation around it, rain showers are actually moving in from the east and southeast on Live Doppler 18. This only happens a handful of times during the year. So make sure to check click on our Live Doppler 18 for another unusual sight.

What a week its been from blazing sunsets to brilliant moonlight and rain showers that are moving the total opposite direction than usual. Will this crazy weather clear up in time for the weekend? Make sure to tune in tonight for the latest. Tomorrow on the blog....I know I have made you wait all week....I will give you our first chance of snow. I let the cat out of the bag today at Rain Tree and will have more pictures and details on the way. I will also will get you in the Holloween spirit and tell you about a spaceship flyby this weekend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Monet in the Sky over Lafayette & A Historic Firestorm Rages Out West

We had a gray day yesterday, but nature made it up to us a sunset. As a cold front swept our way, the drier air mixed with left-over altostratus clouds providing one of our finest sunsets of the year. This is what I call nature's version of Monet. It certainly looked like a painting and I was glad I had my camera on me. This fiery lining in the clouds is telling us a nice sunny day is on the way today, but it will not last very long. We are tracking a slow-moving low pressure to our South in a stagnant pattern that will not only keep us cool but unsettled at times, especially by Thursday night. Here is another picture of last night's sunset and notice we went for an orange hue to more of a deep red color as the sun went farther below the horizon. What a sight!

Not even Hawaii's sunset could compare to what we saw last night on the southside of Lafayette. I have taken many pictures, but these two above have to rank right up there with some of the best I have taken. Maybe some of Dena Flanagan, Mary Anne Best, Bill Snyder, and Monty Sloan have finally rubbed off on me. Really nature made it easy on me while making me look really good!

While we were all basking in the glorious sunset last night our thoughts and prayers today certainly go out to those in California. Some estimates have up to a million folks that have had to evacuate. Some Lafayette residents have family they personally know that have had to pack up and move. It is the largest evacuation since Katrina in the U.S. Unofficially, I came up with my own list of largest U.S. evacuations I could find. I have at least 50 almanacs at home and here is the best I could do to give you an idea of how serious the fires out West really are.

It is hard to believe that the California firestorm that started raging on Sunday is fourth on the list. Hurricane Floyd threatened almost the entire East Coast and of course Rita was the fourth strongest hurricane on record in Atlantic Basin history. The firestorm is in some big company because many are now calling it California's worst Santa Ana fire ever. The irony is that this same weather pattern that finally brought us some nice cool autumn weather brought California devastating fires caused by drought conditions, stifling heat, and 120 mph wind gusts. We just happened to be on the cooler side of this big weather system. Check this out!

You can see the nice northwest flow for us being provided by the big ridge of high pressure out west. This shifted our wind to a new northwesterly direction and brought in real autumn weather. But with the clockwise flow around this high pressure it also brought scorching hot desert dry air that raced out of the canyons toward the coast of California. These areas were like a tinderbox and at last check at least 1,400 homes have been destroyed by fire along with 6 deaths and 45 injuries. Smoke is being picked up on satellite pictures extending up to 700 miles off the California coast. This is an epic event and if this is not enough, there are reports of fire tornadoes. I will explain what this is here on the blog by later today. The good news is that the Santa Ana winds or those strong, desert dry winds around this high pressure will continue to die down today hopefully allowing firefighters a chance to try to begin to really fight the 12 fires that have scorched at least 375,000 acres and counting. It certainly gives you something to think about on this Wednesday.

Fire tornadoes- They are funnels of fire caused by hot gases that are whipped by the wind from the side at just the right angle which can cause spin in the atmosphere. Burning embers associated with fire tornadoes have been known to start more fires and have had a deadly history. In 1923, Tokyo, Japan watched in horror as close to 40,000 people were killed by a fire tornado.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gully Washers & Galloshes Replace Shorts & Sunscreen

WLFI Videographer Blake Naftel

Can you believe we were in the 80s on Sunday or only about 48 hours ago? I had a sunburn on Saturday and it was quite odd still feeling the after-effects of this in cloudy, 50 degree weather today. You can see Blake and I prepared folks for this weather last night on the evening news. Blake sported the autumn wear that worked the best yesterday after weeks of shorts weather. I actually did feel like I was going clamming in New England when I put that outfit on for the newscast. It was actually a lot of fun and just great to talk about real autumn weather. It is for real because today we are having our chilliest day since April 13th across much of the area. It looks like autumn is finally here to stay. We actually had below average temperatures for only the 5th time this season. This chart tells the story below.

Summer is not the only thing that has said goodbye. Our drought-like conditions have been almost completely wiped out thanks to many areas receiving over a months worth of rain over the past 7 days. It is hard to believe we had red flag warning just a couple weeks ago for a high fire danger in parts of our viewing area. Now nature has doused this dry pattern and snuffed out any more talk of drought. Our weather atchers have gotten quite a good workout going back and forth from their respective rain gauges as you see below.

October is one of our driest months of the year on average, but not this year! I do think this has big ramnifications on our winter forecast. I am looking for a stormy winter with plenty of ups and downs. What happens in October, nature tends to remember come December and the rest of the winter. I see us having not only plenty of rain this winter, but snow, and unfortunately a good chance of a big ice storm. We will be right on that dividing line between very warm air to our south and polar air to our north. Last year I did call for a blizzard that was based on weather trends that we have not seen in Indiana since the late 1970s. The El Nino had a historic plunge. This winter we have some very interesting analogs that match up well with ice storms. If this past week had been all snow we would have had over two feet and I would rather have that any day instead of an ice storm. I have already told my wife I want to purchase a generator because I know what happened in 1991 when some folks were without power for 3 to 4 weeks. She thinks I am crazy, but I really feel I am on to something. I certainly hope we do not see a repeat of 1991, but this week's rain may be a warning sign. It is great we have caught up on rainfall, but it is also telling us a volatile winter is coming our way and we need to be on guard for everything from thunderstorms, flooding, and snow to possibly our biggest ice storm in more than a decade. I hope I am dead wrong!

Tomorrow here on the blog we will talk about when our first wintry precipitation may fall and what exactly a fire tornado really is. You have a great day and as always thanks for reading. If you see my wife, remember to remind her about the generator. :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lafayette Runners Take Over Indianapolis Marathon in Perfect Weather this Past Weekend!

Here is my better half and I after completing the Indianapolis Marathon. You can see I had a bit of a sunburn afterwards. I know how ironic. I am always preaching about wearing sunscreen and now you know why. I think I was more sore from the sunburn on my arms than anything else. The big story is my wife Julie, the mother of 3 finished the marathon. I always knew she had it in her. The reason I married her was not only because she was beautiful, but is lion-hearted. She has a big heart and a driving will-power like none other. Julie found out just how much heart she had on Saturday. A marathon breaks many folks down not just physically, but mentally. Not Julie. She was up to the challenge and I could not be more proud of her.

When you cross the finish line you feel like you can do anything. I know it should not take a 26.2 mile run to remind myself this point, but it certainly is some nice re-inforcement. In today's day and age of folks rushing around and losing sight of what really matters, it is tough to remember this. But when you run for over 4 hours like I did you have plenty of time to reflect. I like dedicating certain miles to the loved ones and friends that have really made a difference in my life. Mile one will always go to my grandparents. They were my marathons of inspiration when I was growing up and always made me feel special and full of confidence. My Grandfather Hayes was right when he told me that many kids do not get to really know their grandparents. So we both made sure we took advantage of the opportunity and it certainly has made a huge difference in my life. My kids were talked about numerous times during the race and I did quite a few miles for them. I certainly used that tremendous energy boost it gave me to post my best time yet. My parents always get mile 26. They taught me to finish what you started and always strive to do your best. So believe it or not, I called my Mom during the race and told her the last mile was for her and Dad. Everybody around me got inspired and we all flew toward the finish line. I told them my parents would be proud!

I feel like I also owe many runners I spoke to during the race special thank yous. The nice couple from Michigan really helped push me along. His wife actually ran 4 Boston and New York marathons and she helped keep her husband and I on the right track. By mile 20 we both were feeling like our legs weighed a thousand pounds. But we got talking about Drew Brees and all the good food we were going to eat that night and before you knew it the last six miles was done. Yes, I even talk about food during marathons, not just during my weathercasts! Family was the real big theme and I cannot thank Julie's sister Shelli Krings enough for holding up the fort for my wife and I this past weekend. She drove all the way from Oshkosh, Wisconsin and if that was not enough, she took my kids to soccer, gymnastics, birthday parties, out for food, and the list goes on. I think my wife and I had it easy compared to her this weekend. Thanks Shelli! Here she is with Megan, Abbey, and Lauren this weekend. THEY ABSOLUTELY LOVE THEIR AUNT SHELLI!

This was my 4th marathon and it still holds true that women seem to be the most consistent runners out there and many times the strongest. There were several women that I spoke to that were running their second marathon in three weeks. They were told to walk to the finish line of the Chicago Marathon due to the extreme heat. They still got their medals in Chicago, but told me of how lucky they felt that nothing bad happened to them. Several people passed out before their eyes and many refreshment stands were in fact out of water and sports drinks. It was a horrible combination. I told them I did not order that weather up and was instead responsible for nearly perfect running conditions on Saturday. We had a race time temperature of 59 degrees and it was in the upper 60s by the end of the race with a nice cool breeze and low dewpoints. Everybody around me got really motivated when they found out we would not have to worry about the 80s until the day after this big race was over! The State parks we ran through were absoulutely gorgeous with plenty of sugar maples lighting up the sky along with the sunshine. If you have not run the Indianapolis Marathon in Lawrence, Indiana I highly recommend it. If you are looking to get into running as a hobby like I did, I really think you should go for it! I started out running about 4 years ago and usually only lasted 2 miles. But I stuck with it and made it into something I can cherish for a lifetime. If I did it, believe me so can you! Thanks for everybody's great support during my training and like most runners I am already setting my next goal.

It looks like I am heading to Jacksonville Beach, Florida to run in an inaugural marathon dedicated solely for raising money and beating breat cancer once and for all! It is the first of its kind in the entire country. It will be in February and it is called the Run 26.2 with Donna Marathon to beat Breat Cancer. Donna Hicken whom I worked with in Jacksonville, Florida at WTLV TV-12 is the founder of the event and she has had breast cancer not once, but twice over the last few years. Her bravery day in and day out along with her dedication to the cause will inspire me to not only help make a difference but break 4 hours. Hopefully we can get a whole entourage of folks from our viewing area like we had down in Lawrence this past weekend. There were at least 45 runners from the Lafayette viewing area. We had a huge showing! Great job Greater Lafayette! Let's keep it going! Start booking those plane tickets to Florida. Mom, have my room ready!

Speaking of ready....are you ready for some rain! Rain returns to the forecast and this time it may wipe out our entire rain deficit. More details will be coming your way here on the blog. Run, run, run and let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pictures from the Supercell Outbreak of 2007!

Deb Anker (Blinding Rain & Cloud Tops on US 231 near Wolcott)

Nancy Lee (Magnificent Clouds in Montmorenci)

Courtesy of Bill Snyder (Nature's Majesty)

Doyle McIntosh (Rotating Wall Cloud in Fountain County)

Dena Flanagan (Wizard of Oz on Wyandotte Road)

Ashley Stevens (Monon hit with Golfball hail)

Erica English (Rainbow in Wolcott)

Swarmed with Supercells

It was something you would see in Kansas or Nebraska, but last night it took place in Lafayette, Indiana. We had several supercell thunderstorms track through the area. The big thing though is everybody is safe and sound and I thank you for tuning in and getting to your safe spot last night. Many folks huddled in their bathrooms, closets, and basements as vicious storms moved through. I am only the messenger, but it is up to you to take action last night and you did! Here are pictures from last night. I will have more details on these, but for now just sit back and take it all in. What a day and night it was!

Have a great day and the weekend still looks terrific!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Special Severe Weather Update

5:35 p.m.

The cap looks like it is quickly breaking. Our weathercaster Lee Ann Okuly has arrived and reported a few large drops of rain. All the storm spotters are out in the field and all eyes are on Live Doppler 18. We will keep you updated. Right now it looks like our time frame of 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. is on track.

3:45 p.m. Thursday

Here is the main threat breakdown for our entire state. Notice the two orange-shaded areas have the highest tornado risk. The yellow areas could still see isolated tornadoes with a higher risk of damaging wind and large hail. Now it is time to just wait and see when and where the thunderstorms fire up. I still expect a tornado watch by time our news begins. I will keep you posted.

2:30 p.m. Thursday

Here is a brief re-cap of the conference call with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis:

The main threat at this time for Lafayette continues to be straight-line wind damage with wind gusts of 60 to 80 mph. Tornadoes cannot be ruled out with the highest threat of tornadoes occurring late this afternoon through 8 p.m. tonight. If storms pop early in our area we will have to really be on guard for not only wind damage but tornadoes. Although, a bit of good news for our viewing area is that the highest tornado risk in Indiana at this time will be far northern Indiana from Lake County through South Bend....a second high risk tornado area is setting up from southwest Indiana to Indianapolis and east to Richmond.

The time-frame still looks like the storms will roll through our area between 6 p.m and The 10 p.m. and it is still a fairly broad range because there are discrepancies on the actual timing of the storms on the models. It all depends on when the cloud field in Illinois fires up into thunderstorms. That can be very tricky to forecast.

The storms will be quick-movers with some cells moving at 50 mph to the northeast.

A tornado watch will likely be issued for our viewing area just before our newscasts tonight.

The latest from the Storm Prediction Center:

The wind damage threat has increased to 45 percent late this afternoon and evening. The tornado and hail threat remains the same.

11:30 a.m. Thursday

Here is the latest from the Storm Prediction Center for the Lafayette viewing area (within 25 miles of your backyards):

Chance of Straight-line wind damage: 30%
Chance of Tornadoes:15%
Chance of Large Hail: 15%

The latest discussion seems to favor straight-line winds here in our viewing area with higher risks of tornadoes the farther south you go especially from southern Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. There will be an upper-level disturbance moving through these areas which would intensify their developing thunderstorms by late today and overnight. Here at home, the storms look like they will take their time initiating and this could lower our chances of seeing any tornadoes as we lose the daytime heating. The latest model runs keep pushing back the timing of when our thunderstorms will develop. The later they form the better. Also, the big supercells that will likely form to our south will limit northward transport of moisture and high dewpoints. This could help limit our thunderstorm development.

10:00 a.m. Thursday:

The sun has popped out here on the southside of Lafayette. This is not what you like to see before a possible severe weather outbreak. The sun adds to the instability of the atmosphere. It is the equivalent of adding high octane fuel to the atmosphere. There already is incredibly high wind shear developing in the atmosphere. This tends to add spin to thunderstorms. But in meteorology we know that you have to have just the right mix of shear and instability. The shear could become so strong that it could literally rip off thunderstorm tops as they form by late today and tonight. This would favor squall-line of thunderstorms here at home to develop with the main threats being straight-line wind and large hail. Tornadoes would still be possible though even in this situation, but much more isolated in nature. We will continue to see how this plays out. Here are a couple of the latest updates available below. There will be a conference call at 2 p.m. that I will share with you later here on the blog. Right now I still do not see anything developing until we get closer to 7 p.m. But this could still change so stay tuned.

Here was the early morning statement from the National Weather Service in Indianapolis:

There is a major risk of severe thunderstorms today and tonight. The main threats from these storms will be tornadoes and damaging straight-line winds. Severe weather is most likely between 5 p.m. and midnight.

Batten Down the Hatches, A Stormy Day is on the Way

You know you may be in for rough weather when your localcast shows a squall line stretching several hundred miles by late afternoon and early evening. The big question is will the line actually form and initiate. If it does, there is no question we will have severe weather with plenty of wind damage. Hopefully we can keep the tornadoes away, but keep in mind a lot of times straight-line wind damage or downbursts can do just as much damage as tornadoes. We could see wind gusts near 70 to 75 mph if this line comes together like some of the maps say. I will make sure to keep you informed throughout the day on the tube and here on the blog. Just think our weekend looks terrific. So be careful and take it easy today so we can all enjoy it!

The worst thing you can do in Indiana is let your guard down. Last night our sports anchor Mike Cleff was amazed that on average we have as many tornadoes in October here in Indiana as we do in July. Take a look at the graph above. This is based on data from 1950 to the present. We avearge about 24 tornadoes per year in Indiana with 2 of them occurring in October. Most people are also amazed when I tell them that we have had tornadoes in every single month of the year. For instance on December 8, 1966, Montgomery County had a tornado when folks were out holiday shopping. Wind speeds were estimated at 100 mph. There was also a tornado reported in Montgomery County in January of 1996. What a way to bring in the new year. We will see just how we bring in this new stormier weather pattern. Yes, I will do my best to keep the tornadoes away. At least we have Live Doppler 18 to turn to for the latest. Stay tuned and logged on.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Strongest October Storm Since 2001 Moving Our Way

The last time we had this high of a severe weather risk in October I only had 2 kids and much less in the way of gray hairs. Now many moons, marathons, and another beautiful daughter later, nature is reminding us that things can become quite volatile in October. The graphic above shows that tornadoes are even possible in large numbers in October. On October 24, 2001 we had dozens of severe weather reports across our area with wind gusts as high as 65 mph and hail almost to golf-ball size. Tomorrow our main threats will once again be damaging wind and large hail, but we have to watch out for an isolated tornado or two. I remember 8 tornadoes were confirmed back in October of 2001 in Indiana, including 3 in La Porte County that killed one person. Now this is still a developing storm so we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

The Storm Prediction Center has placed our area in a moderate risk of severe weather by Thurday afternoon and Thursday night. This means a significant severe weather outbreak is possible with at least 5 to 10 percent of our area receiving wind gusts of 58 mph or greater, hail nickel size or larger, and possible tornadoes. The culprit for this is certainly our warm, tropical pattern meeting a strong jet stream that we have not seen much of since April.

When you have 105 mph wind speeds at 35,000 feet and even 60 mph wind speeds at 5,000 feet a tremendous amount of wind shear is added to the atmosphere. Tomorrow our storms could actually race across our area at more than 60 mph with these high wind speeds. The problem is that these thunderstorms like to capture this wind energy and focus it all the way to the ground with strong damaging downdrafts called downbursts in this type of set-up. I think this will be our main threat on Thursday. Now if we get a couple of isolated cells out ahead of the main squall line, we will certainly have to watch out for tornadoes. It should be interesting. Since I have 3 girls at home that do not like any bad weather...make that 4 including my wife, I will be very careful to keep everybody calm and to pass word on about where any dangerous storms are and where they are moving. I will also do plenty of cut-ins and be in touch with emergency management throughout our viewing area. So make sure to tune in and you can check out our Live Doppler 18, 24 hours a day on It will be a team effort with everybody in the newsroom and the community. Together we can stay safe.

Keep this in mind and stay alert and ready to act. This will be possible by thinking of your kids and family and making sure everybody knows what to do and where to go if the weather threatens. Do not go about your routine as normal tomorrow. Have a plan B and actually use it to ensure everybody stays safe. I want to make sure nobody is caught offguard and this can really make a huge difference. Our weather team is all geared up and ready!

The big thing is teamwork and the National Weather Service in Indianapolis held a conference call today at 2 p.m. Usually conference calls are held when something big is coming. I remember we had one before the blizzard and the great flood a few years back. The main points are above and you have to remember that a moderate risk of severe weather usually only happens a few times a year. This means dozens of severe weather reports are likely. You also have to realize that this moderate risk was issued a couple days ago which is also rare. So now we are aware of the potential for severe weather. Tomorrow stay aware, alert, and it is up to you to take action with any weather warnings. Keep checking back on the blog for storm stories and pictures from where you live.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Our 2nd Severe Weather Season May Fire Up Thursday

We are officially in our 2nd severe weather season which is triggered by a much stronger jet stream that not only spins up strong storm systems but forces seasons to collide. It also adds extra spin to the atmosphere. The dynamics over us Thursday and Thursday night look like something we would see in March. The picture above tells the story. Be ready and alert and have a plan B. We have been very fortunate with severe weather so far this year, but keep in mind when looking at the record books, quiet severe weather seasons in Spring usually leads to nasty weather in the autumn. One year ago today we actually had our first trace or cat tracks of snow. This tells you how wild our weather can be. This year the pendulum is swinging the opposite way with just as dramatic of an impact.

At this time I cannot rule out isolated tornadoes along with damaging wind and large hail by late Thursday and Thursday night. Whenever you have summer temperatures mixing with a spring jet stream, and a powerful autumn storm it only means trouble. You know things are out of balance when you have dog day weather in the second part of October. Usually our dog days officially run from July 3rd through August 11th. This means get ready for a lot of bark and bite in your forecast.

You see our director Darcy's dog Riley above. I call him Baby Toto since his great-great-great brother was in the Wizard of Oz. He is full of energy and likes to play tug of war, just like our weather does with us this time of year. He has visited our station a couple times already and he is quickly becoming our weather mascot. We will have to have Riley updates here on the blog to help you plan your day ahead. Darcy is working on getting him an outfit for all the different weather we have in Indiana. I told her that would be quite a project. We may have to dress him three different times in one day. We do have 3 seasons in the next 4 days so maybe some visuals from Riley our weather mascot will help prevent any confusion. I can't wait to see how he handles snow drifts! For now though, Riley is learning where his safe spot is so his little fur stays safe and sound for whatever nature throws at us on Thursday. It could get ruf! ruf! Okay, you can tell I have been playing too much with Lauren again, but I think overall that is a good thing as long as I don't bark on the air tonight. Have a doggone great day! I will see you tonight.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I Take the Lambeau Leap & We Jump Into Our Stormiest Pattern Since April

I just got back from the shrine of all NFL stadiums. Lambeau Field lives up to all the hype and more. I felt like a kid again back in Washington, D.C. taking in all the monuments and museums. The sense of history around you is incredible. Vince Lombardi would certainly be proud. Those fans in Green Bay are one of a kind. They have to get some type of award for "nicest fans" in the NFL. Now they probably would not have been as nice if I was wearing Bear or Viking colors, but I can tell you I have never been treated with such hospitality at any sporting event. They were first-class. Colts fans are also known for their hospitality and are definitely near the top of the list for nicest fans, but I can tell you the Packer fans took it to a whole new level.The picture above really is your weatherman wearing a hog nose. Yes, that really is me. The hog nose symbolizes the Redskins offensive line that had the famous nickname of the "hogs" in the 1980s when they were winning Super Bowls. Brian Key, my cousin, had the famous cheesehead hat at the game. We had two evenly matched teams really knock each other around for 4 quarters of football.

I told the Green Bay fans that I was born in Washington, D.C. so that is why I was wearing the burgundy and gold. I also told them I was there for the Lambeau experience. I was astonished when they wanted to make sure I was in fact was having a good time and getting to see everything around their hallowed halls. If this was not enough, they also wished me a safe trip home since they knew I came a long way. It was quite refreshing and it made my special day even better! I have only seen the Redskins play a handful of times since I was little because like the Packers there is a waiting list for Redskin season tickets that stretches from here to Timbuktu. The Redskins have officially sold out every game since the mid to late1960s just like the Packers. Redskin-Packer tickets may be the toughest tickets to come by. I will never forget the game my Dad took me to on October 2, 1978 when the Redskins beat Dallas 9 to 5 on Monday Night Football. Joe Theismann spiked the ball at the end of the game after running the clock out by running out of the endzone with a safety. That was at old RFK Stadium. October 14, 2007 will also always be etched in my memory for not only what a great game it was, but how it was a small miracle I got tickets! Future Hall of Famer Brett Favre was much different watching in person. He faked me out several times with the ball and even resembled Larry Bird a bit with all of his body movements and head fakes. I have never seen basketball moves that work during a football game. Here is a picture of him below before working his magic.

Yes, the Packers won 17-14, but I did not feel like I normally do after a loss. Hall of Fame Coach Joe Gibbs knew we let one slip away, but was encouraged that this team is no longer a laughingstock of the NFL. Packer fans were telling me they expect to play us again in the playoffs. I hope that comes true. One more interesting thing is Lambeau Field is situated in a neighborhood and in that family atmosphere, folks let strangers park in their yards. So basically I was not really upset after the loss. I felt like I did after I lost to a few friends in a pick-up football game. This is probably because the nicest fans in the NFL took good care of me. I haven't even told you about the great cheese curds I ate. If you ever have the chance to go to Lambeau Field absolutely do it! It is worth the price of admission and much more. I also want to thank all of my Wisconsin relatives for all of their hospitality and finding me the tickets. I am honored to have married into the "cheeseheads".

The weather was drizzly and foggy much of the game. It was wonderful football weather and I was happy to see rain again. The great news is tonight you can tune in and find out that I in fact did bring some of the rain back home with me and I have our most active weather pattern since April on the way!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Night Frenzy Lives Up To Its Name, Our Wild Ride Continues

I hope you are having a great day. I have been busy with our winter forecast and I have come up with a snowfall total prediction and a year this winter will most resemble. Okay I will not make you wait for the year. It will be a 1964-65 winter which means it will be stormy with plenty of rain, snow, and ice. Temperatures will average out close to normal, with plenty of wild swings like we have in the current 7 day forecast. A lot of times meteorologists pay close attention to weather patterns in September and October to determine what is on the way this winter!

I will have more on this but first let me get you ready for tonight! It must be Friday night Frenzy. We have had an incredible range of temperatures on Fridays. We had highs as low at 72 like we saw on September 14th and we have been as hot at 93 on August 24. Tonight, nature will take us on the lower end of the see-saw. Bring blankets and hot chocolate with you to the football games. It is the season of transition. Our weather will continue to be in a frenzy through the weekend and next week with even some shorts weather, thunderstorms, widespread rain, and even a heavy frost looking more likely by next weekend. I will break it all down for you tonight and have more specifics on the winter forecast here on the blog by late today. See you soon!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another All-Time Record Falls Like Our Temperatures, A Hot Chocolate Advisory is in Effect!

Our first hot chocolate advisory of the season was issued last night and for good reason. Unlike this picture, make sure you use the big marshmallows and do not burn your tongue like I did yesterday. Ouch! Also, do not forget your coat like Gina. She will not make that mistake again. I am glad she did not hurt herself when she sprinted across the parking lot. Folks are in shock even though we forecasted the big change. Mike Cleff our sportscaster tried to go out and jog this morning in shorts and lasted about a minute. The good news is that he did eventually find his sweatpants and finished his workout. I know to take nature seriously in Indiana so I ran 5 miles on the treadmill and did another 4 miles on the bike, INSIDE. This finally warmed me up, but it seemed like it took twice as long as normal. I also apologize to those running near me. I was grunting a little louder than normal while working out due to all the great weather changes I have been tracking. No doubt about it, autumn has arrived. Just remember the bigger the temperatures, the farther they fall. Although, the 7 other October days of 90 or above we have had on record had much more gradual cooldowns when cold fronts moved through. But in our case there was nothing gradual and it was more like a free fall as you see below....and you thought we were done with setting records, lol.

I could not really find anything close to a two day temperature drop of 33 degrees in October. In 2001 we fell 27 degrees in 2 days and that was the most impressive fall I could find in our record books that go back 111 years. My eyes are still recovering but it was worth the research. I now have bragging rights when I speak to all my other meteorolgical friends across the country now. We have set an incredible 2 all-time October records in just the last 4 days. I know, you probably are not as excited as I am, but here are the facts. We had our hottest October day ever with 91 degrees on Sunday and today the other boot fell in a big way! Make that both boots. It felt like it was going to SNOW!

Yes! I am a little strange celebrating these records, but it is just something I was born with I guess, so forgive me if you are offended. The plants and trees around Lafayette are not celebrating that is for sure. In Attica, we had more reports of blooming lilacs. Many folks have never seen lilacs bloom this late in the season. Well now you have, here is your proof.

Special Thanks to: Pat Smith

We also did a story on getting your flu shot tonight and Jeff Smith and Sue Scott know that I do not like needles of any kind even if they can help you from being miserable. I was making faces thinking of the needle. So that may be why they had some interesting expressions on their faces. We really are like one big family here. Remember if something looks a little out of sort on the newscast, you can usually trace it back to the weather guy. I am blamed for everything....headaches, toothaches, warm weather, cold weather, missing name it. It comes with the territory. When you point to a blank wall every night you have to have a sense of humor and when you forecast Indiana weather day in and day out it toughens you up. I really could not ask for better people to work with. That is just another reason I love living here!

So since I am blamed for sniffles and sneezes the least I can do is give you some tips on how to stay healthy even though our temperatures feel like Florida one day and Alaska the next. Welcome to sniffle and sneezing weather. The main things are to wash your hands more frequently and drink plenty of fluids. Those two things along with eating well, exercising, and getting rest go a long way to staying healthy. Your body needs more water when we go into our colder weather periods and it is easier to become dehydrated. Also, since we are hunkering down to stay warm and spending more time inside you really need to make sure to wash your hands more often. I am a little funny about germs as it is but when our weather goes absolutely crazy like it has over the past 4 days you need to take precautions. When I am not updating the blog, doing the weather, or working out....I will be washing my hands. :)

Okay your session with Howard Hughes or Dr. Mike is over. Now are you ready for your winter outlook. The Climate Prediction Center came out with their updated winter forecast and if you do not like this big chill out there you have plenty of good news coming your way. But if you like snowstorms, I have some good news for you to. Make sure to check back and we will compare and contrast at least 5 different winter forecasts this afternoon. My biggest fear this, ice, baby.... I will give you a little something to tide you is one of five winter forecasts just in...