BREAKING NEWS: The 13 Weather Authority has issued a Barbeque Alert that will remain in effect through Saturday afternoon. Watch for rapidly cooking meats during the late afternoon along with flaming marshmallows over open fires at night. Watch for anyone doing any work in the kitchen and warn them of the dangerous consequences. Again, a BBQ Alert is in effect through Saturday.


Posted under BBQ Alert

This post was written by qni_it on September 18, 2009

Afternoon high: 3600°. Morning low: -328°.

An artist's impression shows what the planet may look like in close orbit with its sun.

An artist's impression shows what the planet may look like in close orbit with its sun.

Scientists have discovered the first confirmed Earthlike planet outside our solar system, they announced Wednesday.

An artist’s impression shows what the planet may look like in close orbit with its sun.

“This is the first confirmed rocky planet in another system,” astronomer Artie Hatzes told CNN, contrasting the solid planet with gaseous ones like Jupiter and Saturn.

But “Earthlike” is a relative term.

The planet’s composition may be similar to that of Earth, but its environment is more like a vision of hell, the project’s lead astronomer said.

It is so close to the star it orbits “that the place may well look like Dante’s Inferno, with a probable temperature on its ‘day face’ above 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius) and minus-328 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 200 degrees Celsius) on its night face,” said Didier Queloz of Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, the project leader.

Hatzes, explaining that one side of the body is always facing the star and the other side always faces away, said the side “facing the sun is probably molten. The other side could actually have ice” if there is water on the planet.

“We think it has no atmosphere to redistribute the heat,” Hatzes told CNN from Barcelona, Spain, where he is attending the “Pathways Towards Habitable Planets” conference.

The astronomers were stunned to find a rocky planet so near a star, he said.

“We would have never dreamed you would find a rocky planet so close,” he said. “Its year is less than one of our days.”

The planet, known as CoRoT-7b, was detected early last year, but it took months of observation to determine that it had a composition roughly similar to Earth’s, the European Southern Observatory said in a statement.

Astronomers were able to measure the dimensions of the planet by watching as it passed in front of the star it orbits, then carried out 70 hours of study of the planet’s effect on its star to infer its weight.

With that information in hand, they were able to calculate its density — and were thrilled with what they found, Hatzes said.

“What makes this exciting is you compare the density of this planet to the planets in our solar system, it’s only Mercury, Venus and Earth that are similar,” Hatzes, of the Thuringer observatory in Germany, told CNN.

They were helped by the fact that CoRoT-7b is relatively close to Earth — about 500 light years away, in the constellation of Monoceros, the Unicorn.

“It’s in our solar neighborhood,” Hatzes said. “The thing that made it easier is it’s relatively close, so it’s relatively bright. If this star was much much farther away, we wouldn’t have been able to do these measurements.”

At about five times Earth’s mass (though not quite twice as large in circumference), it is the smallest planet ever spotted outside our solar system.

It also has the fastest orbit. The planet whizzes around its star more than seven times faster than Earth moves, and is 23 times closer to the star than Mercury is to our sun.

The planet was first detected early in 2008 by the CoRoT satellite, a 30-centimeter space telescope launched by the European Space Agency in December 2006, specifically with the mission of detecting rocky planets outside the solar system.

At least 42 scientists at 17 institutions on three continents worked on the project.

They are publishing their findings in a special issue of the Astronomy and Astrophysics journal on October 22 as “The CoRoT-7 Planetary System: Two Orbiting Super-Earths.”


Posted under space

This post was written by qni_it on September 16, 2009

Great Lakes clean-up lagging badly

greatlakesBy JOHN FLESHER

AP Environmental Writer

(AP) A federal report says the government is moving so slowly to clean up the most polluted sites in the Great Lakes that it will take 77 more years to finish the job at the current pace. The inspector general’s office with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the report this week.

It deals with 31 so-called “areas of concern,” which are river bottoms, harbors and other spots where sediments are heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals. The report estimates it will cost more than $2 billion to finish the cleanup.

It calls on EPA to establish a plan with clear lines of authority and accountability for each site.

The report says the agency has agreed to develop a limited management plan but hasn’t gone far enough.


Posted under going green

This post was written by qni_it on September 15, 2009

Dry autumn means less spring flooding

While it may be easy to complain about the recent dry stretch of weather, it is becoming easier and easier to find good things that are a result of it. First off, farmers are praising the dry skies above. Hay needs to be very dry for harvesting and the corn and bean crops don’t need water right now. In fact, the dry weather will make it easier and more cost-effective for farmers in the long run. When it is wet in late summer and early fall, many of the crops need to be dried manually to prevent spoilage. If Mother Nature does it with a dry stretch of weather, they don’t need to do it.

Now, let’s think long-term. If we stay dry through the next few months, the soil will lack a lot of moisture going into winter. This means we won’t see much flooding next spring.

When there’s a wet autumn, the moisture is absorbed deep into the soil. This moisture is stored through the winter and freezes. When the spring thaw occurs and there are abundant spring rains, the rainwater isn’t allowed to seep into the ground. This brings about bad river flooding during the late-winter and early spring.flood1flood2flood3


Posted under flooding, weather

This post was written by qni_it on September 14, 2009

Bench Cam!!!

Here’s a live look over downtown Rockford. Tonight at six and ten, we need YOU to be at the bench for 13News! It’s easy to do. Just call someone on a cell who is watching 13News and you’ll know when you’re on. We could have a lot of fun with this! -ES


Posted under weather

This post was written by qni_it on September 11, 2009

See the International Space Station pass overhead

Many of you commented at how cool it was to see the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Discovery go over last night. Discovery’s coming to earth tonight so it doesn’t look like we’ll have an opportunity to see it again over us but the ISS will be making some appearances. Below is a list of when you’ll be able to see it over the Rockford metro. Keep in mind it’s very hard to see anything that is less than 20° from the horizon will be impossible to see. Looking for the “Max Elev Degree” to be highest, it looks like you’ll have a pretty good view Friday night. Look in the northwestern horizon at exactly 7:56 and follow it across the sky! -ES


ISS Thu Sep 10/09:06 PM 2 20 18 above NW 17 above N
ISS Fri Sep 11/07:56 PM 3 38 36 above NW 10 above NE
ISS Fri Sep 11/09:31 PM < 1 13 13 above NNW 13 above NNW
ISS Sat Sep 12/08:20 PM 3 19 18 above NW 11 above NNE
ISS Sun Sep 13/08:45 PM 2 14 12 above NNW 11 above NNE
ISS Mon Sep 14/07:34 PM 3 19 18 above NW 11 above NNE
ISS Mon Sep 14/09:10 PM 1 12 10 above NNW 12 above N
ISS Tue Sep 15/07:59 PM 3 13 12 above NNW 10 above NNE
ISS Tue Sep 15/09:34 PM < 1 10 10 above NNW 10 above NNW
ISS Wed Sep 16/08:24 PM 3 12 10 above NNW 10 above NNE
ISS Thu Sep 17/08:48 PM 2 15 10 above NNW 15 above N
ISS Fri Sep 18/07:37 PM 3 13 10 above NNW 10 above NNE
ISS Fri Sep 18/09:13 PM < 1 14 12 above NNW 14 above NNW
ISS Sat Sep 19/08:02 PM 3 16 10 above NNW 13 above NE
ISS Sun Sep 20/08:26 PM 2 26 12 above NNW 26 above NNE
ISS Mon Sep 21/07:19 PM < 1 13 13 above NE 10 above NE
ISS Mon Sep 21/08:51 PM < 1 32 20 above NW 32 above NW
ISS Tue Sep 22/07:40 PM 4 27 10 above NW 14 above ENE



SHUTTLE Thu Sep 10/09:04 PM 2 20 19 above NW 17 above N
SHUTTLE Fri Sep 11/07:53 PM 3 40 38 above NW 10 above NE
SHUTTLE Fri Sep 11/09:28 PM < 1 14 13 above NNW 14 above NNW
SHUTTLE Sat Sep 12/08:16 PM 3 20 18 above NW 11 above NNE
SHUTTLE Sun Sep 13/08:40 PM 3 14 12 above NNW 10 above NNE



Posted under space

This post was written by qni_it on September 10, 2009

Former CBS weatherman loses lawsuit, vows to continue fight for stroke awareness

markmcewenBALTIMORE (AP) — Former CBS “Early Show” personality Mark McEwen is moving on with his life after a massive stroke nearly four years ago that abruptly ended his TV career. He’s written a book about his experiences and is trying to raise awareness about stroke warning signs and recovery.

But McEwen, 54, is now dealing with a fresh setback — the abrupt end to a court battle against the doctor who told him he had the stomach flu when he showed up at a Maryland hospital emergency room with stroke-like symptoms.

Two days after that hospital visit, McEwen boarded a flight home to Orlando, Fla., and suffered a massive stroke. His attorneys claim the stroke could have been prevented if McEwen had been given drugs including aspirin and anti-coagulates.

But U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz disagreed, ruling last week that those drugs were not effective enough in the short term to have made a difference in McEwen’s case.

“I was very disappointed,” McEwen told The Associated Press on Monday. “When you’re up against something that’s kind of murky, it tends to throw a person who’s used to knowing the difference between right and wrong.”

McEwen’s attorneys say they are considering an appeal. Lawyers for the defendants, Dr. Michael Bond and Baltimore Washington Medical Center, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

McEwen worked for CBS from 1987 through 2002, filling a variety of roles on “The Early Show” including weatherman, anchor and entertainment reporter. He interviewed presidents and contributed to the network’s Olympics coverage. He was fired in 2002 when the network revamped “The Early Show,” and in 2004, he joined the CBS affiliate in Orlando, WKMG-TV, as a news anchor.

McEwen was visiting friends and family in Maryland — his brother, Kirk McEwen, is a longtime radio DJ in Baltimore — in November 2005 when he began to feel nauseous and dizzy while waiting to board a flight at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

He also experienced slurred speech — a red flag for a possible stroke. But Dr. Michael Bond, who treated him in the emergency room, said in a deposition that paramedics did not mention that symptom to him.

Bond also acknowledged in his deposition that he spent time looking up McEwen on the Internet during his time in the ER. The doctor told McEwen he had the stomach flu and advised him not to fly for two days. McEwen heeded that advice, then traveled home to Florida and suffered a stroke in mid-air.

McEwen’s attorney, Daniel W. Cotter, said he was “shocked” by Motz’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit and disappointed that the case was thrown out on what he considers a legal technicality.

“We believe that if given an opportunity to decide this case, a jury would have clearly seen through the defenses created to avoid responsibility to Mr. McEwen,” Cotter said.

McEwen had to learn to walk and talk again after the stroke, and the former righty now uses his left hand for most tasks. While his speech sounded clear in a telephone interview, he said his voice remains “a work in progress,” and a full-time return to television is out of reach.

He has written a book, “After the Stroke: My Journey Back to Life,” and travels the country for speaking engagements.

“Many people who have a stroke think it’s kind of a lonely malady,” McEwen said. “There is no one advocating, being a spokesman like a Lance Armstrong, like a Michael J. Fox. … I’m committed to doing that.”


Posted under weather

This post was written by qni_it on September 8, 2009

Afraid of heights? No. Afraid of climate change? Perhaps. Crazy either way? Yes.

From the London Times – The Frenchman known as “Spiderman” for audaciously scaling some of the world’s tallest buildings today added Malaysia’s Petronas Towers to the list of structures he has climbed without ropes.

Alain Robert reached the top of Malaysia’s tallest building in his third attempt on the nation’s tallest structure.

Mr Robert, 46, began climbing the 88-storey building before dawn and reached the top before being discovered and arrested by security officials, said the Kuala Lumpur police chief, Muhammad Sabtu Osman.

“We have taken him back to the police station for questioning and checking his passport. He can be charged for criminal trespass,” Mr Osman said.

Mr Robert first tried to scale the building on March 20, 1997, and made a second unsuccessful attempt in 2007 after which he was freed without charge.

Last year he was arrested in London after scaling the outside of the Lloyd’s Building to protest against climate change during the G20 summit. In 2007 he was jailed for five days for climbing China’s tallest building, Shanghai’s 430m (1,400ft) Jin Mao Tower.


Posted under climate/climate change

This post was written by qni_it on September 6, 2009

Cool autumn ahead. Snow for Halloween?

elninoLooking back at El Nino autumns we see a trend that many of you probably won’t like. Summer 2009 was one of the coolest on record and it appears that this cooling trend will continue for the next several weeks or months. Rainfall tends to be just a bit more than average.

This means that once we get cold enough there could be an early season snowfall! We’re going out on a limb and will forecast a snow event for the last few days of October or the first week of November. Keep in mind, a snow event that early in the season may be a dusting to an inch. We’ll have to see if this forecast verifies but I’m not losing any sleep between now and then. 😉 -ES


Posted under climate/climate change, weather

This post was written by qni_it on September 3, 2009

Just say no to infomercials

Yes this is a weather blog. No, this has nothing to do with weather.


Posted under humor

This post was written by qni_it on September 2, 2009