Wildlife & Weather

It’s Earth Week! Get outside and celebrate our great planet.  It’s the only one we have!

Spring Happenings

Ruby-throated HummingbirdThe bloom of desert wildflowers happening across the Southwest and southern California is extraordinary, but also fleeting.  Get the latest updates on where the best blooming is occurring.

Migrating ruby-throated hummingbirds have made it as far north as New England this week.  Get your feeders out now for the best chance at attracting these zippy little birds for the rest of the spring and throughout the summer.

You can follow the migration path of dozens of bird species.

In Florida and across the Deep South, it’s alligator breeding time.  As the weather warms and days get longer, male alligators start bellowing and vibrating the surface of the water in their territories to attract females and intimidate other males.  After a courtship ritual that includes a lot of rubbing, pushing each other under water and bellowing, the male and female alligator will mate (the male will in fact court and mate with several females in his territory).

Climate Change: A round-up of science and news on how climate change impacts wildlife.


Posted under wildlife

This post was written by qni_it on April 21, 2009


Every day, our team of Meteorologists works hard to bring you a thorough, researched report on the weather. Things are about to change around here when it comes to reporting climate.

Over the weekend, I participated in a climate change conference at the Field Museum with the help of the Tribune and McCormick Foundations. Scientists from all over the country converged on Chicago to present informative speeches on our changing climate and what we (Broadcast Meteorologists) should do about it. In attendance were fellow Meteorologists from TV stations in Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Toledo, and Quincy. All of us will be working together in the future to make sure the right information is being given out when it comes to climate change.

Consider this: Most people in our society are quite knowledgeable in the day to day Hollywood gossip but lack daily information on science. It’s not the fault of anyone. However local news, and more importantly local weather, is the #1 source of science information for everyone. It’s for this reason solely that we are starting the 13Climate Authority.

Many TV Meteorologists squabble when it comes to whether they want to be the “station scientist.” For many this is a valid point. When there’s an earthquake why does CNN turn to their Meteorologists for insight? They’re Meteorologists, not experts in plate tectonics. Even though they aren’t the experts on the subject, they use the information they know and broadcast that. The same holds true for us here at WREX. We know we’re not experts in climatology and that’s why we’re not doing the research! We are going to publish and air the research that scientists all across the globe come up with. And we will make sure what we report comes from unbiased sources. When possible we will even offer the contact information from the authors.

So this is all about giving you the right information when it comes to climate change.

While climate is not political, the way we combat any problems in the future will be. Politicians make policy. Are they making policies based on climate change today? No. Perhaps the reason is because the electorate in this country is unfamiliar with the subject. Our intent with the 13Climate Authority is to make you familiar with it by responsibly reporting the change in our climate.

It’s always been our goal that you should walk away with enough weather knowledge after you watch the 7 Day Outlook. The same will be said when it comes to climate. Just keep watching!

We’ll begin Wednesday…Earth Day.

Eric Sorensen, Chief Meteorologist


Posted under 13 Climate Authority

This post was written by qni_it on April 20, 2009

Don’t be the first to get a sunburn this season

uv_mapMost of us don’t think to put sunscreen on until it gets warm outside. However, this is the time of year when we’re most susceptable to the negative effects of the sun.

Coming out of winter into spring, most of us take the sun for granted. However the ultraviolet radiation (or UV Index) is as high this time of year as it is in August!

This map shows the UV Index forecast for Thursday across the country. Areas in green are considered low because clouds and rain are expected. The worst part of the country is Florida where indexes will be very high.

Unfortunately the sun (ultraviolet radiation) causes more people to get cancer than any other reason. The good thing is protecting yourself is easy! Wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and take breaks out of the sun.


Posted under sunlight

This post was written by qni_it on April 15, 2009

Hurricane Center chief says storm scale has become outmoded


Article by Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN — For this year’s tropics season, the National Hurricane Center won’t abandon the venerable Saffir-Simpson scale, which rates hurricanes on a familiar scale, from Category 1 to Category 5.

But the center’s director says any single index cannot begin to capture the local impact of a hurricane, a fact Hurricane Ike — only a Category 2 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale — made stark to residents of the upper Texas coast.

“If I could wave a wand and make it go away, I would,” said Bill Read, at the National Hurricane Conference in Austin on Friday. “It made sense in the era it was conceived, four decades ago, and now it’s ingrained in the culture.”

Read the whole story here and leave a comment. We’d like to know what you think! The devastation I observed in Galveston just a few weeks ago looks a lot different than the damage I personally observed after tracking Hurricane Lili along the Louisiana coast in 2002.


Posted under tropical weather

This post was written by qni_it on April 13, 2009

What does rotation look like on doppler radar?

doppler_velocityLive 13Futuretrack has the capability of looking at thunderstorms around here, or around the country!

I turned on the Greenville/Spartanburg, SC NWS radar and flipped it into velocity mode. This gives you a picture of what we will be using when we have tornado warnings. First thing to do is locate where the radar site is. I labelled that with a white dot. Any green color shaded is wind moving TOWARD the radar site. Any red color displayed is wind moving AWAY from the radar site. Now look where the brighter reds and greens (higher speeds) are in close proximity to one another. Knowing that most tornadoes and funnels spin counterclockwise, we then look where these “couplets” form rotation. It’s easy now to see where the possible tornadoes are. I labelled them with white circles. Now just because there are greens and red couplets together doesn’t exactly mean there will be a tornado. Where it says “New warning here?” there appears to be some intense rotation. However you can’t just look at the velocity on doppler. I switched it over to “reflectivity mode” which shows us where the intense precip is…and there’s no storm there.

So, even though picking out rotating storms is a little difficult at first, the combo of experience and 13Futuretrack makes it possible to see where a tornadoes will form BEFORE they touch down. -ES


Posted under severe weather, tornado

This post was written by qni_it on April 10, 2009

Severe weather strikes Atlanta tonight

Click on this image for the latest severe weather information from WXIA-TV in Atlanta11alive2.


Posted under severe weather, tornado

This post was written by qni_it on April 10, 2009

Tornado strikes Shreveport, Louisiana


11:00pm – Terrible news coming in late tonight after a tornado tears across a populated area of Shreveport leaving dozens of people injuried.

10:15pm – The National Weather Service is reporting a tornado on the ground within the city limits of Shreveport, Louisiana as of 10:15pm CDT. Tornadoes at night are especially dangerous, but this one is crossing a densely populated area.

Here’s an excerpt from the Shreveport NWS chatroom:

(10:18:18 PM) nws-keith.stellman: just saw powerline flashes from the NWS office looking northeast

(10:19:15 PM) nws-keith.stellman: just saw more powerlines flash

(10:22:53 PM) nws-keith.stellman: shreveport PD just lost power while I was on the phone

(10:26:02 PM) nws-keith.stellman: shreveport police reporting tornado n. market/cross lake

(10:36:06 PM) nws-keith.stellman: lakeview subdivision…trees on houses

(10:36:22 PM) nws-keith.stellman: 169 closed…trees on road

(10:53:16 PM) media-mark.rowlett: 3100 block Aston in Shreveport, women trapped in her car, can’t feel her legs. Thats from the Shreveport PD


Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by qni_it on April 9, 2009

Dandelions already?

dandelion2previewI noticed the first leaves trying to pop out of their buds on the way to work today. Justin Gehrts spotted some dandelions in his yard.

Have you recently spotted the signs of spring? Post a comment and share!


Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by qni_it on April 8, 2009

Antarctic ice shelf on the brink

courtesy: European Space Agency

courtesy: European Space Agency

According to several governmental agencies, the Wilkins Ice Shelf is about to break off of Antarctica due to global climate change. It may not seem like a big deal, especially when you look at the map to the left. However the Wilkins Ice Shelf is about the size of Connecticut! Imagine that state falling into the Atlantic Ocean. Okay, that’s not a pleasant thought so let’s not.

Click on this link for an animation of the ice breaking from the European Space Agency.

These satellite pictures confirm that the thread of ice connecting the shelf to land had shattered. Leading scientists now warn that the entire ice shelf could soon break up and disappear. If the Wilkins Ice Shelf breaks off, it would be one of the largest slabs of ice to ever break off of Antarctica.


Posted under climate/climate change

This post was written by qni_it on April 7, 2009

Opening Day Forecast

soxTomorrow will be opening day for the White Sox. If you’ve got some tickets, you should have no worries weatherwise. I expect plenty of sunshine. The only problem will be the chilly breeze blowing down the lakeshore. First pitch is at 1:05pm with a gametime temperature of 47°.

Click below for opening day forecasts for the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers.cubbiesbrewers


Posted under weather

This post was written by qni_it on April 6, 2009