Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy pics: Real or spoof?

By now you've probably seen pictures of Hurricane Sandy circulating the Internet. Many of these photos have been forwarded to the KJRH Channel 2. Are they real? Here's the scoop:

A supercell thunderstorm is pictured here, and the Statue of Liberty is pasted in the foreground. Two real pictures, but not real together. The background storm picture was taken in 2004 by Nebraska storm chaser Mike Hollingshead.
No, not from Hurricane Sandy. This supercell storm photo was likely taken in the Plains. Hurricanes don't look near this ominous from ground level. 
This view of the iconic Tomb of the Unknown soldier is a real picture, but it was taken earlier this year. The rain from Sandy would have resembled this.  
Fake. No, the waves were not 100-200 feet tall!


Look familiar? From the movie the Perfect Storm.
I sure hope this is fake. 1,000 foot waves would not be good!
Yes! It's definitely a real picture. ;)

Note: You will rarely see actual hurricane pictures of "interesting" or "cool-looking" clouds from ground level. Hurricanes are so large that the cloud layers aren't obvious from close range. Instead of the individual bands or layers which are easily spotted in supercell thunderstorms, hurricane clouds look one shade of gray. The bottom of the clouds are also much closer to the ground than Oklahoma storms.

Another interesting to note: lightning is rare in hurricanes! 

Hopefully this info helps... George

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Downbursts and microbursts in Oklahoma

(ABOVE: KJRH viewers Nik Stophel (Highway 169 looking toward Bixby) and Michael Wheeler (Bartlesville) took pics of microbursts and their downpours. Microbursts have a sharp contrast from intense downpour to calm surroundings.)

Microburst-type downbursts have relocated patio furniture and cracked tree limbs in Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma this Summer, and our viewers have sent in pictures to prove it.

A downburst is simply a highly concentrated strong wind blowing straight down (a down-burst of wind) from a storm. Only a few square miles are impacted.

The term microburst is used to describe a tiny downburst. A microburst creates intense damaging wind over a small 1-2 square mile area.

Two microbursts hit Tulsa and the Bixby areas in recent weeks. Other downburst/microburst destruction was reported in Washington and Nowata counties.

Microbursts are a problem for meteorologists as the exact moment a storm decides to "burst" can't exactly be predicted until downward movement is noted within the precipitation core. By then the downburst is already underway.

Downbursts can occur when a heathly thunderstorm inhales hot, dry air from outside of the cloud. This dry air evaporates the rain creating a huge pocket of cooler air within the storm.

As cooler air is heavier, this cold chunk of air falls straight down. In extreme cases the wind can reach over 100mph! Hurricane-looking conditions result for up to 10 minutes.

Different types of downbursts are also possible with "wet" and "dry" microbursts being identified.

Trees don't fare well in microbursts as the limbs are forced toward the ground.

Here are the conditions that I look for when watching for downbursts/microbursts:

- High temperatures with fairly dry air: 95°+ air temperatures with a dew point temperature of 65° or lower.

- If temperatures are closer to 100° with a 60° dew point, then microburst potential is greatly enhanced. (A difference of 35-40° between the temperature and dew point is ideal.)

- Light upper level wind (such as in July and August).

- Storms which build and develop "straight up" are microburst candidates.

- Interesting note: Drought years (like 2012) are more prone to microbursts due to the larger difference between the temperature and dew point temperature.

Hope this info helps... Thanks for reading! George

(BELOW: The anatomy of a downbursting/microbursting storm and damage pics. Courtesy: Casandra Paramenter and Dan Lockhoff.)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dashboard Pizza: Cooking in the car on a hot day

(ABOVE: Minuteman Pizza Parlor in Sand Springs tried cooking a pizza on a dashboard. How did it fare? The yummy results are pictured below.)

Does the inside of your car feel like oven on a hot day? Is it hot enough for you to actually cook food? Minuteman Pizza Parlor in Sand Springs decided to put the idea to the test-- dashboard pizza!

Here's what they did:

They placed a fresh 10" cheese pizza in an aluminum foil tray. The pizza and tray were then set in direct sunlight on a van's dashboard. They aimed the front windshield toward the sun during peak heating of the afternoon. Then they shut the doors and walked away, letting the van heat up on its own.

The results? The pizza slowly cooked to a crisp after three hours-- it worked!

The cheese melted under the sun, and the pizza dough baked into a somewhat crispy crust.

Based on experiments that I've done in the past, I estimate the temperature of the pizza tray reached 150-170 degrees! The rubber/plastic composite dashboard is usually the hottest surface in your vehicle, especially if exposed to direct sunlight. (Random thought... I wonder what the van smells like now?)

How did the pizza taste? Jessy Lawley ate the cooked pizza below... pretty good!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tulsa Tough 2012: Street party + bicycle racing

(ABOVE: Fast women! Ladies racing in the Friday night downtown races)

The Tulsa Tough is three days of professional bicycle racing and tour rides centered around downtown Tulsa. The annual event is held during early June on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Tulsa Tough has quickly grown into a huge event with big crowds and a festive atmosphere Personally, it's my favorite event in Tulsa!

The huge attendance figures this year were the largest yet. The growth of corporate sponsorships= improvements each year to enhance the experience for cycles and fans-- this is a first class event.

Professional cyclists race through downtown and Riverside Drive courses Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. The more casual (and open to regular cyclists) tour rides take place Saturday and Sunday morning.

My wife and I attended the Friday night pro races, and then I cycled in the Sunday morning "Grand Fondo."

The Friday Night races are a must see. Even if you know or care nothing about cycling you will love it!

Tulsa Tough begins with the "McNellie's group Blue Dome Criterium". It's a fast-paced experience which will take your breath away.

The best professional cyclists in the country race at speeds over 30mph in a tightly-packed clump. The cyclists ride a closed course along the city streets of downtown Tulsa under the lights. Fans, many with a beverage in hand gather around the track.

A huge outdoor TV broadcasts the event with "play by play" provided by nationally renown commentators.

Children enjoy the event too. It's fun to lean in close to the track to be blown back by the gust of the wind from the bikes-- the peloton, or clump of bicycles is so intense that they create their own wind. Smiles all around!

I really enjoy Sunday's racing too, maybe the most. These races zoom along a section of Riverside Drive.

Many folks sit under the trees and along the hills to enjoy the day. I also witnessed several bike crashes. (If you get some thrill out of watching bicycles crash, then this event is for you!)

The Sunday race features a short, but steep climb up "Crybaby Hill"-- this is cool to watch.

Local crazies come out, some dressed in silly stuff, to encourage or whatever the cyclists. The crowd is huge, clever and fun-- quite a spectacle!

The Tulsa Tough... first class event. Make sure it's on your stuff to do list!

(BELOW: I rode with Team Lee's in the more casual Saturday and Sunday morning rides.)

Location:Downtown Tulsa

Friday, June 1, 2012

Home Run for the Homeless

(ABOVE: Channel 2's Taft Price, Liz Bryant and myself are pretending to look like real ball players before the game.)

"Home Run for the Homeless" is an annual benefit softball game featuring alleged local TV news celebrities vs the local radio personalities. This was my first year to play.

The game is played downtown at ONEOK field, home of the Tulsa Drillers. Admission is a $5 donation and free for children.

The purpose of the game is to raise money for the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless. The Day Center specializes in helping homeless people "get back on their feet" so they can become self-sufficient. It offers programs and operates 24 hours a day.

(ABOVE: Liz and me with Julie Chin! Though Julie has "retired" from tv news, expect to continue seeing her all over town.)

Each local TV station volunteers familiar faces to play in the softball game. For this year's game, Taft Price, Liz Bryant and myself represented Channel 2. Al Jerkens, Jason Shackelford, Justin Wilfon and Russ McCaskey and others have played in recent years too.

The radio team was well represented as I recognized a personality from nearly each local radio station. This included my friend Kevin Ward from the 97.1 "the Sports Animal" who pitched. Their "ringer" was former TU quarterback Paul Smith . (Paul also works for 97.1FM, "the Sports Animal.")

In the broadcast booth, Phil and Brent from KMOD along with Roy D. Mercer provided humor at the players' expense.

Probably the highlight of the fun is helping and watching the kids run the bases during the middle of the game! (BELOW PIC)

As far as the actual game, the TV team stopped a losing streak to the radio folks with a 10-1 victory. Our defense played really, really well. Even a few double plays!

I did ok on the night too. I got a hit in every at bat, and defensively, I didn't make any errors at shortstop. (I blame not shaving for my good performance...)

Weather-wise, conditions were perfect with a temperature near 70 degrees, low humidity and not much wind.

Nearly $10,000 was raised for the Day Center. No one got hurt, and everyone had a good time.-- hope to be back next year! :)

Thanks for reading. George

(BELOW: Here is the view from the field. The Tulsa Drillers get nice views of downtown when they play.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Flower Power: Great bicycle event near Muskogee

(ABOVE: Quality cycling events have quality stuff at rest stops... donuts!)

Flower Power is an annual small town bicycle ride through the beautiful terrain of far eastern Oklahoma. Based out of Three Forks Harbor on the edge of Muskogee, Oklahoma, the ride takes place the last Saturday in April. And it's kinda awesome!

Many cyclists in the Tulsa area consider Flower Power as the first big cycling event of the season.

The internet site http://www.flowerpowerbike.com/ advertises that 300-500 usually ride each year. This year's ride seemed bigger, and experienced riders told me the crowd was among the largest-- credit the nice weather forecast maybe! ;)

On-line registration cost me $30 which included a nice long-sleeve "Dry Fit" souvenir shirt.

You can "late register" on site if needed.

The Flower Power registration area was located inside a modern office-like building at the Harbor, and it offered plenty of restrooms and air conditioning. (I was able to give myself a sink-bath and change clothes after the ride.)

The 9am start time is later that most, and it's welcomed as most riders drive in from out of town. (45 minute drive from Tulsa.)

Five different ride lengths ranging from 15 miles to 100 miles are offered. The 70 miler seemed to be the most popular. I chose the 50 mile course.

The elevation ranges from 500 feet to 900 feet on the 50 miler with 1200 total feet of climbing according to www.mapmyride.com.

Rest areas are located about every 10 miles. Several ladies from a bank in Fort Gibson offered smiles and the usual rest stop goodies at the mile 20 rest stop.

All rides begin at Three Forks Harbor and make a clockwise circle north then eastward through downtown Fort Gibson then toward Hulbert and Tahlequah.

Most of the roads were very smooth by Oklahoma standards. All riders will encounter short-lived gravel patches between Fort Gibson and Okay between miles 5 to 11. Otherwise the roads are mostly smooth asphalt with little traffic... really, really nice pavement!

The signature highlight of the ride begins near mile 15. Large sweeping curves plunge 200 feet to Fort Gibson Lake Dam. You will easily reach near 40mph without pedaling.

After riding across the dam, you climb up the east side for 300 feet alongside beautiful jagged rocks and under shaded trees. This climb grades near 10%. It's challenging, but doable.

The next section is also quite enjoyable. During the next 10 miles, expect more speed with more sweeping curves and downhills that take you across low water crossings. (Make sure you ride "straight up" across the low water crossings as slippery concrete at the bottom could surprise you. The scenery is ideal with occasional tree canopies, varying shades of green colors, valleys and occasional overlooks. Vehicular traffic isn't a problem.

Though I really enjoyed the 50 miler, I would recommend choosing a different distance. The problem occurs at mid-ride as the course steers you along heavy car traffic and barely shouldered Highway 51. Any other distance avoids this 5 mile stretch between Hulbert and Tahlequah. Try the 70 miler instead!
The steepest climb of the course occurs in the last 15 miles. Nicknamed "The Wormhole", the terrain sharply rises 200 feet in two chunks along a sharp curve. My bike computer registered an 18% grade for the second section of the climb-- I had to walk my bike up the hill! The rest of the course is mostly downhill.

The last rest stop is within 5 miles of the finish, and it's a fun one. Hula dancers provide you with a flowered lei to wear the last few miles!

The last rest area also provides a nice break too as the last few miles are otherwise rather blah. You finish the course riding along the wide shoulder of westbound Highway 62/64 toward Muskogee.

Flower Power ends unceremoniously as you ride back across he starting line.

The end of ride meal back is a winner. You can spread out, wash up, and cool down back inside the Three Forks Harbor office structure. Volunteers serve up a good lunch: homemade hot dogs, chili, pickles, potato salad along with plenty of water, soda and cans of beer if you choose.

You overlook the harbor in a shaded picnic-like setting.Overall I give this ride a four star recommendation.

If you live anywhere near Tulsa, Oklahoma City, NW Arkansas, or even Dallas, this one is worth the trip.

Beautiful scenery, curves, climbs, descents, smooth roads and friendly faces. I'll be back next year!

Thanks for reading. George