Smoky Conditions due to 60,000-arce Wildfire

Many of our viewers have noticed the smell of smoke and the hazy conditions outside this afternoon.  This is all due to the 60,000-acre wildfire in Pagami Creek, Minnesota.  The fire started back on August 18 because of a lightning strike.  With a high-pressure system over Iowa, our winds are out of the North-northwest, which is brining the smoke from 400 miles away in Minnesota down over Wisconsin, Illinois and even parts of Michigan.  The smoky conditions will unfortunately continue into the evening and overnight hours.  Winds will start to shift westerly tomorrow before the next cold front pushes through.  If you are outside you might get a sore throat, watery or irritated eyes and visibility might become limited when driving. 

(That is not fog on the visibility now graphic… that’s smoke from the fires)

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Posted under health, news, weather

This post was written by qni_it on September 13, 2011

Why is the humidity so high? The answer is pretty corny.

Randy Pitterle of Freeport sent me an email earlier this week inquiring about the higher humidity observed near cornfields.

Indeed, humidity levels are much higher outside of major cities. For instance, Freeport has seen dewpoints of more than 80° in the past few days while surrounding (more urban) cities are in the 74-78° range. This has to do with the evapotranspiration from cornfields. During middle July, our crops are at their mature, healthy stage. As they take moisture from the ground and roots, the healthy leaves give off the moisture during the day (faster during higher temperature). In fact, each corn stalk gives off 53 gallons of water to the atmosphere in it’s lifespan.

Because there are about 20,000 corn stalks in each acre of land, that means that one acre of corn will yield 1,060,000 gallons of water into the air! That translates to A LOT of humidity!

Stay safe during these extended humid time. While heat waves are deadly, the deaths are preventable if you take the right precautions! Above the current heat index map as of 2:50pm. -ES

And now some corny weather humor!

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Posted under health, heat wave, humor, weather, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on July 20, 2011

Staying safe in the heat

With the impending heat wave only days away, it’s important to get the information you need to stay safe. Excessive heat contributes to the largest number of weather related fatalities each year, and it’s vital to take the warnings seriously.

A great example of this would be the heat wave of 1995, which tragically claimed the lives of over 1,000 people nationwide (NOAA). While ample warnings were issued and broadcast to the public, the rare nature of these events left the public wondering what to do with the information they received. While these situations can be very dangerous, there are many steps you can take to combat the heat and it’s harmful effects.

Some of these tips include:

Keep hydrated- Increase fluid intake by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages.

Wear appropriate clothing- Light, loose fitting clothing is best for the summer heat.

Stay informed- Keep up with local news and weather reports for the latest information.

Communication- Check up on elderly or sickly relatives, friends and neighbors who are at the highest risk for heat related illness.

Search for A/C- Air conditioning is a key factor in avoiding heat related illness. If air conditioning is not available in your home, spend time in public places such as shopping malls, grocery stores, and public libraries where air conditioning is available.

For a full list of heat related tips, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at the link below:

 http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp

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Posted under health, heat wave, safety

This post was written by qni_it on July 15, 2011

Arizona wildfires causing our smoky skies

In this high definition photo from the National Weather Service’s MODIS satellite from 440 miles above the earth it’s easy to see where Arizona is on fire. You can also see a plume that is floating over the Texas panhandle. (The milky-white appearance on the map). The “Wallow Fire” is the second largest reported in Arizona’s history and is 0% contained. According to NBC affiliate KPNX-TV, 311,000 acres have been charred. More than 2,100 firefighters are using 141 engines, 46 water tankers, 8 bulldozers, and 20 helicopters to fight the fire.

According to the New Mexico Business Weekly, flights from Salt Lake City, Houston, Oakland, and Seattle were diverted away from Albuquerque International Airport because of dense smoke. The city of Albuquerque even canceled an outdoor concert due to an unhealthy level of smoke.

KVIA-TV is reporting that electric officials are warning that the fire is dangerously close to high-tension power lines. Should the lines be broken due to the fire, rolling blackouts will occur in the El Paso, Texas metropolitan area in the coming days. The lines in question carry 40% of the power into that city.

This is a big deal and it’s effects are being seen here in the Midwest too! This is another image from MODIS and we’ve highlighted the most recent plume of smoke to pour into our airspace. In fact, this plume may have been enough to limit our temperatures by a degree or two today (much like a light pair of sunglasses on the atmosphere). Even though there are health concerns in New Mexico, the smoke plume is dispersed somewhat once it gets into the Midwest. Still, this plume coupled with industrial pollutants makes for some unhealthy air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Click here to see what the air quality is for our area.

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Posted under health, news, pollution, wildfires

This post was written by qni_it on June 7, 2011

Sneezy weather today!

A few days of hot, windy weather will do numbers on the amount of pollen in the air. Check out the Allergy Report from today. For the first time this season we have had medium-high levels of all pollen! If you’re allergic to grass pollen, you were likely feeling the effects of the elevated levels. Tree and weed pollen was also pretty high as well.

We’ll likely see this maintain a medium-high trend into Wednesday. However, stormy, chillier weather will bring the pollen levels down for Thursday and Friday.

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Posted under health

This post was written by qni_it on June 7, 2011

Allergy Report begins today on 13News

If you’re sniffling and sneezing, we may be able to give you a reason every weekday on 13News at Noon and 13News at Five. Beginning today, we will be broadcasting the daily pollen and spore count from the Winnebago County Health Department. This will be a regular part of our weather segments until our first frost which usually comes in late September or October.

Side note: we will be using a scale of low, medium, high, and very high from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology as different levels of pollen and spores have a different effect on people. -ES

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Posted under health

This post was written by qni_it on May 16, 2011

What is your indoor humidity?

indoorhumidityAs I mentioned on last night’s 10pm newscast, my top lip had cracked because of the lack of humidity in the studio. In fact, just looking at my half-empty big gulp of iced tea on the weather center desk proves that! There’s no condensation on the outside of the cup!

If the temperature is 15° outside with a relative humidity of 75%. Once this air is moved indoors and heated, the humidity in the air drops considerably to 10%! This means you must humidify the air in your homes and businesses this time of year in order to make your surroundings more comfortable. In some instances just having a few houseplants or boiling a pot of water will add enough moisture to the air.

Try this experiment: Drop three ice cubes into a small glass of water. Stir it well then wait three minutes. If moisture does not form on the outside of the glass, the air is too dry! Let us know what your indoor humidity is like? Do you have moisture on the outside of the glass?

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Posted under health

This post was written by qni_it on January 12, 2011

Air Quality Watch (Southern Wisconsin)

out112AIR QUALITY WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR GREEN, ROCK AND WALWORTH COUNTY 
FOR WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY MORNING.

SOUTHERLY WINDS...WARMER TEMPERATURES AND INCREASING MOISTURE
WILL CREATE FAVORABLE CONDITIONS FOR ELEVATED CONCENTRATIONS OF
FINE PARTICLES. THERE IS A POSSIBILITY THAT FINE PARTICLE
POLLUTION CONCENTRATIONS WILL REACH UNHEALTHY LEVELS FOR PEOPLE
IN SENSITIVE GROUPS ACROSS THE EASTERN HALF OF THE STATE.

DUE TO THE POSSIBILITY OF ELEVATED LEVELS OF FINE PARTICLE
POLLUTION IN THE REGION THE WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL
RESOURCES HAS ISSUED AN AIR QUALITY WATCH FOR WEDNESDAY AND
THURSDAY MORNING. THIS WATCH WILL BE IN AFFECT UNTIL 7 AM
THURSDAY MORNING.

INCREASING WIND SPEEDS AND PRECIPITATION CHANCES ON THURSDAY AND
FRIDAY ARE EXPECTED TO KEEP FINE PARTICLE POLLUTION
CONCENTRATIONS FROM REACHING UNHEALTHY LEVELS FOR PEOPLE IN
SENSITIVE GROUPS ON THESE DAYS.
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Posted under health, weather

This post was written by qni_it on December 28, 2010

Why so hot?!?

heat-indexThe thermometers today will say a certain number, but what you physically feel will be something entirely different. This is what we call Heat Index. This index combines air temperature and relative humidity to determine how hot it feels when you are outside. The human body cools itself by sweating which then evaporates and carries the heat away from your body. However, when the humidity level is high, the rate at which your sweat evaporates is greatly reduced. This means that your body cannot remove the heat quickly enough and this is when we get heat exhaustion.
The heat index is in effect only if the actual temperature is above 80°F and the dew points are greater than 54°F. In addition, the heat index is based on the temperature readings in the shade and not in the direct sunlight. So, if you are outside in the shade today during peak heat, it will feel like 101°F, which means in the sun you should take extra precautions and drink plenty of water.

80–90 °F Caution — fatigue is possible with extended outdoor activities. Continuing activity could result in heat cramps.
90–105 °F Extreme caution — heat cramps, and heat exhaustion are possible. Continuing activity could result in heat stroke.
105–130 °F Danger — heat cramps, and heat exhaustion are likely; heat stroke is probable with continued activity
130 °F Extreme danger — heat stroke is imminent

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Posted under health, heat wave

This post was written by qni_it on July 14, 2010

Strong sunshine

15As you walked outside this weekend, you may have noticed how much warmer you felt in the sun. Maybe you opened up your car and sat down to a very hot steering wheel. While our temperatures have peaked out around 60 the past two days, the sun’s radiation is still the same. During our spell of warm weather earlier in the month, I heard of a few people going out to tan. The funny thing is that although it may not be quite as warm feeling now, the sun is even stronger today than earlier in the month making burns more likely. So even though it may not feel like “sun tanning weather”, you can still get a healthy bronze or possibly more than you bargained for if you aren’t careful

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Posted under health

This post was written by qni_it on April 18, 2010