Monday, May 22, 2017

Back From Big Sky...

One of the big benefits of retirement is I get to travel more often.  This past weekend I visited my middle son Ryan out in Missoula, Montana for his 42nd birthday.  What a beautiful part of the USA.  I understand why he wants to live there.   Clean air, clean water & TOPOGRAPHY!  Wow, the snowcapped mountains out in the distance, the rushing streams with trout fishermen, a truly unique place in America.    Nights were in the 30s, but the days warmed into the 60s with little humidity.  I feared coming back to our heat, but what a pleasant surprise to find we were not in the 90s, heck we were not even in the 80s.  What is going on?  After getting back into the weather groove, here’s my take.  An unusually deep dip (for May) in the jet stream has carved out a trough over the central plains that covers much of the nation.  Rotating around the trough are several swirls (perturbations) of energy that help enhance rainfall.  In addition, we have a splitting of the jet stream with the subtropical jet turning out of Texas to the SE while the main jet recurves around the upper low to the NE.  That is allowing the air to rise ahead of our next disturbance that will move through overnight.   All of the weather programs I watched are echoing the NWS guidance for heavy rainfall over night.  My take is this system is progressive and, unless it stalls, rain totals should stay between 1-2” or less.   Also, radar is showing clusters of T-Storms off the upper Texas coast, but it appears to me they will stay along or south of our coast.  That would mean the heaviest moisture would be cut off from moving over us.  David just pointed that out on TV and I tend to agree.   …” a lot of people might not get much” according to David.    I don’t think conditions are right for a heavy rain event.    Let’s enjoy this unusual late May cool down.   You know that first 90 degree day is just around the corner.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bubba's Bumper Crop...

In case you missed it, last Saturday, with the help of my daughter-in-law Emily, I did my 1st ever Facebook live video.   I introduced you to my tomato plant Bubba, who has grown to nearly 6 feet tall.  My Saturday count had 19 tomatoes on him, but today’s recount now is up to 22!  My guess is I have another 2 weeks to go before the first group starts to redden and then  I can see if they are any good.  So far, all is well appearance wise.  I’ll keep you posted.   About the time I get my first tomato (2 weeks) is the beginning of the 2017 hurricane season.   Really don’t have any feeling as to what kind of season it’ll be as most forecasts are calling for slightly below normal in the number of storms…but does that really tell you much?   I’m just hoping for another weak to moderate El Nino developing producing enough wind shear to keep storms away from us.  Of course as we get closer to June, the big weather question is…”when is our first 90 degree day coming”?    Historically it’s around the last week of May or the first week of June.  So far it’s been a really comfortable Spring with nights dipping into the 50s & 60s.   It really hasn’t felt awful yet, but you know it’s only a matter of time.   Last night I was enjoying sitting outside with my adult beverage until the termites started swarming about 8:30 pm.    It’s that time of the year.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

1st Weekend in May...

Back when I was young in my 20s, I didn’t remember much about the past since it was so short.  We thought about the future which was such a long time to go.  Now that I’m approaching 70 and the future is obviously much shorter, us old folks remember the past since it’s so much longer now.   When I arrived in New Orleans in 1978, the 1st weekend in May was not all about Jazz Fest since it was just starting to grow into the huge event it is now.  The 1st weekend in May was Kentucky Derby weekend and, back then, Ch. 8 was an ABC affiliate which carried the derby (now on NBC).  Ch. 8 would throw an enormous Derby party for local advertisers & Ad agencies at one of the downtown hotels with buku food & drinks.  It was a way to say thank you for spending money with Ch. 8.  On-air anchor people were invited and it was the first time I felt I was in “big market” TV.   Well those days are long gone.  Most TV stations are ruled by corporate bean counters (look at Ch. 4…Laura Buchtel quit last May & they still haven’t replaced her) and the excesses of the past are no more.   The Zoo-To-Do was also on the 1st Friday of May and that was a special night for me as I did a live remote from under the oaks.     Now the big event is Jazz Fest and it was such a great weekend to be outdoors.  Low humidity & comfy warm temps made for near perfect conditions to be outside.   As we all know, this will not last much longer.  The deeper we get into May, the higher the humidity & temperatures will get.  Usually by the 15-20th, we know the summer heat is on.   This week should stay tolerable with highs mid 80s.  Our next rain chance will arrive on Friday and by then my garden will need it.   We could see another front push through for the weekend with some drier air, but after that, the heat will be on.


There are growing signs that an El Nino is trying to form.  That would be good news for our upcoming hurricane season as El Ninos increase wind shear over our part of the Tropics.  Who really knows?  Hurricane Season begins in a little over 3 weeks.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May Floods...

I started with Ch. 8 on April 3, 1978.  I went on air for the 1st time on April 10th.  3 Weeks later, the 1st of our “hundred year floods” hit swamping vehicles & flooding homes.   I remember driving into Ch. 8 on Airline Highway (Drive now) which I thought was high ground.  No problems until I passed the Swegmann’s at Labarre Road where the water started to cover up the road.  I moved to the farthest left lane and it was bumper to bumper traffic all the way past Metairie Country Club into Orleans Parish.  An RTA bus came roaring by pushing a wake of water into our line of cars.  Cars began stalling out and I knew mine would be next so I drove it up onto the cement median to keep it out of the water.   The lightning & rains were tremendous.  I was still a mile from Ch. 8 so I decided to wade to the Texaco station (ain’t dere no more) to use the phone. (no cell phone back then).  Ch. 8 said all their vehicles were stalled too and try to get in best way I could.  I went back to the car and took off my shirt & tie and got into a t-shirt & shorts and began the mile long trek along the railroad tracks.   Lightning was crackling all over and here I was holding an umbrella and my dress clothes trying to get to work.  Finally, I made it and quickly got on-air to report what was going on.  Back then we had no tower cams, no live radar, no live trucks just primitive TV.  Our news director (the late Alec Gifford) knew we needed pictures to show the story so he got the engineers to move one of the studio cameras thru the lobby and out on to Euphrosine Street which was covered in several feet of water.  He told me…” Breck, take off your shoes and get onto that car and start talking about what you are seeing”.   I said sure Alec, and with my umbrella, jumped on to a car with water up to its bumpers.  It turned out to be great TV as we now were able to show pictures of the flooding.  Only later did I think how foolish I was getting on a metal car, holding an umbrella with a metal handle in one hand and a microphone with its wire draped back thru the flood waters into the station.  I was an electrocution waiting to happen with all the lightning popping.   What fun times they were.   1995 brought an even greater flood but the technology was so much better with radar and satellite loops & live trucks.


So here we are again on May 3rd and back are the May floods.  Fortunately, the weather pattern is progressive and won’t stall so the rain totals will be far less.  People now have cell phones with cameras and there are all the social media outlets to post pictures.  Communications are so much better now.  Weather warnings are instantly sent to cell phone apps and no one should be caught off guard not knowing what’s coming.   I marvel watching David on VIPIR able to indicate which rain storms are severe and which ones are not.  Looking back on nearly 40 years and I’d say…we’ve come a long way baby.  Several more lines of storms are coming but after 2-3 AM, things will settle down.  Stay safe and keep your cell phone nearby as you go to sleep.