Here's hoping Hurricane Harvey soon moves on and leaves the stricken residents of Texas and Louisiana alone.

From what I've been able to gather, Harvey isn't all that different from other very strong hurricanes of the past, which is like saying being mauled by a 950 pound grizzly bear isn't all that different from being mauled by a 925 pound grizzly bear. But unlike past hurricanes, it's been stalled by other weather patterns; in the time Harvey has been hovering over the coast, Katrina had already made its way inland to Indiana.

50 inches of rain forecast. I mean, 50 inches of snow qualifies for an "I survived the blizzard of ..." t-shirt. That's, what ... five inches of rain, give or take?

And so ... record rains. I don't have to tell anyone how bad things are down there, and North Korea's attempts to help by firing rockets at it have so far had little effect. For those of you in the path of this apocalyptic shower, I can only say that we're all thinking of you, and hoping you'll dry out soon. Keep your spirits up ... another thing easier said than done.
ozma914: (Storm Chaser)
( Mar. 15th, 2017 12:15 am)

Crazy mild February (at least, in Indiana). Trees start blooming weeks early, people can take walks without a clothing store worth of covering, we can see the light at the end of the frozen tunnel, then ...




Well played, winter. Well played.

At work the other night we took 63 calls, almost all of them storm related, in a five hour period. It's not unheard of for us to take only a dozen calls all of third shift this time of year, assuming no winter weather comes in and there aren't a lot of traffic stops. (I work in an emergency communications center.)

I'm still so stressed that every muscle in my body is tightened up. I feel like if someone sneaked up behind me right now I'd get a concussion hitting the ceiling. But I've learned a few things I'd like to pass on to you:

If a stop light goes dark due to storm damage, the law says you're supposed to treat it as a four way stop. I learned this in driver's ed, but apparently they don't teach that anymore. So my advice to you is that if the traffic light is out you should stop at the intersection and, if you see anyone coming the other way, turn around and take the back roads. Yeah, if the other guy hits you after you stopped and proceeded it'll be his fault, but you'll still be hit.

If you're got a trampoline, anchor it down. Apparently they make great sails until they get to a road, then they make great roadblocks.

If you see a utility line on the ground and can 't tell if it's an electric line, a TV cable, or a phone line ... it's an electric line.

Speaking of roadblocks, if a huge storm goes through at night and you have to drive somewhere in the morning, treat every hill or curve as if it's the wrapping of a huge present waiting just out of sight. That present may be a utility pole, or a tree, or a trampoline, inviting you to party with your insurance agent. Not the greatest comparison ever, but still.

Straight line winds aren't nearly as sexy as tornadoes, but they can still rock your world.

Being in a building hit by lightning is very exciting.

Sometimes exciting is not good.

If you're a 911 dispatcher, don't drink. You might never stop.

I posted this back in February of last year, and for some reason I started thinking of it again this weekend. Really, it works best if you have the music playing in the background while you’re reading it.


Maybe you’ve seen “Frozen”. Maybe you’ve been frozen. Either way, I think you can relate to how I changed the song’s words, to reflect my feelings about winter. If you’re not familiar with the song, just ask any kid. If they don’t have the soundtrack or a karaoke version, they can probably still hum the tune from memory.


"I Don’t Want To Build a Snowman"
 (sung to the tune of Do You Want to Build a Snowman)

I don’t wanna build a snowman. 
Come on, are you crazy?
I’m not going near that frozen door
Call me a bore
I’m not going to freeze today.           

I’m used to being warm
and when I’m not
I wish that I could die!

I don’t wanna get the frostbite.
I don’t want to see fingers white.

Go away, Winter.
Okay? Bye...

I don’t wanna build a snowman.
Or get hit with wet snowballs.
I think the outside may be for you,
I don’t like turning blue
and suffering from falls.

(Just hangin’ at home.)

I’ll stoke a fire or two
Staying in my room,
and at least then I won’t die.

Please don’t make me go out there,
People are asking when it will end.
They say their skin has turned to ice,
Out there it’s not so nice:
Just go back in.

We’re not such a fan
Of this icy land,
But what are you gonna do?  

I don’t wanna build a snowman. [sniff]




So ... should I post my next great song, "Stop the Snow"?


But ... I'm so cool!



Blizzards happen. This one affecting much of the east is particularly bad, but they happen--and they'll happen again.


Most of the things people should do to prepare for one disaster are the same for any disaster: Stocking food, water, first aid supplies, battery powered lights and radios, and so on. When you're hit by a tornado, earthquake, snowstorm, or many other catastrophes, you might be on your own. Emergency services might not be able to get to you at all, or they might be overwhelmed.


Whenever an emergency comes, someone who thought it wouldn't happen to them has it happen to them. Don't wait until it's too late to be prepared. It's not silly. It's not overkill. It's what may keep you and your family alive.

We left Pokagon State Park at about 12:30 this afternoon, figuring to get ahead of a vicious looking black cloud. We failed. On I-69 it got nighttime dark, with an edge of light on the horizon that made things look a little surreal; that was when I looked to my left and said something that I won’t repeat here, but won’t win me any awards for great sayings.


I wouldn’t recommend pulling over along an interstate, but I also wouldn’t recommend calling 911 while driving 70 mph in wind gusts and a downburst. While we were stopped we saw at least three or four funnel clouds, or possibly one or two that would come down, spin around for awhile, then lift back up only to emerge again. We had a scare when it looked like a touchdown directly ahead of us along an overpass, during which I cussed in the 911 dispatcher’s ear, but I think it was a front gust that blew dust and rain over the top of the bridge. On the way home we caught a little hail, but by the time we got to Kendallville it was just heavy rain.

 Emily said she’d never go storm chasing with me … but she said nothing about already being in the car when the storm chased us.


The Albion Fire Department is lengthening the time the town’s tornado sirens will sound during bimonthly tests, to make it more like what people will hear in case of a real tornado warning.


The tests will still take place at about 6 p.m., on the second and fourth Mondays of every month (except winter). However, previously the sirens were turned on just long enough to make sure they work, and then shut back down. In the case of a real tornado, the sirens sound a steady wail for three minutes.


During testing, the sirens will now sound at high pitch for the full three minutes, so residents will get a feel for what they’ll hear if a tornado warning is actually issued. The town’s newer sirens have additional capabilities for alert tones in case of other emergencies, and officials are working on plans to use them for situations other than severe weather.


Two new large sirens were recently put into service after a yearlong fundraising project. Albion is currently covered by five sirens, while another is situated at nearby Skinner Lake. The sirens will be sounded in case of a tornado warning, which means a tornado or funnel cloud has been sighted by weather spotters or radar.


Albion's two newest sirens were dedicated earlier this year. This one was placed by the town municipal building, near the east side of town. (Photo by Mark R Hunter, courtesy Albion FD)


ozma914: (ozma914)
( Apr. 2nd, 2015 03:55 pm)


Hopefully today’s rain will cut down on ground cover fires for awhile, and hopefully without severe storms. And hopefully without an earthquake, like Missouri just had. Worst case scenario: an earthquake during a forest fire, with a funnel cloud touching down to make a fire tornado. The scary part is that it could happen.


 But remember, folks: Just because the ground is still wet doesn’t mean we can’t have ground cover fires. Dead foliage from over the winter dries out quickly, and until things green up later in the spring it can ignite easily—sometimes within hours of a rain. I’ve seen flames burn through a swamp, right over standing water.


In fact, fires this time of year can be even worse, because brush, grass, and fields still burn, but the ground can be too wet for four wheel drive brush trucks to reach the flames. Firefighters have to walk to the fire with hand tools, or wait for the flames to reach their positions close to the road. Waiting means the fire gets bigger, and there’s a chance it might reach and damage buildings or vehicles.


So don’t burn in windy conditions, have a cleared area around whatever you’re burning, and watch the fire until it’s completely out. If in doubt, don't do it.

Not being in a burning building doesn't make it safe: Firefighters have suffered smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion, falls, burns, and being hit by vehicles at grass and field fires.


This photo is from a fire that endangered buildings on March 18th, near Long Lake Road and CR 175 N.






I love January! Said no one, ever.


Okay, some people actually do love winter, which just goes to show you: Northern Indiana needs better mental health screening. I used to take part in winter activities, but I was young then, and young people just haven’t learned that being miserable isn’t an adventure.


When I was a kid, I loved sledding, snowball fights, and not having to pay the utility bills. Well, I liked them … I never did warm up all that much to winter. Then, one day when I was about fourteen, I came in from building a snow block fort to discover my hands and toes had themselves become snow blocks. My cheeks had taken on a white, Frosty-like sheen.


My face cheeks. Get your mind out of my insulated underwear.


Thawing out involved a process not unlike being stabbed with a thousand white-hot pins and needles, and from that time on I couldn’t stay in cold weather for long before the affected parts started to feel like they’d been shotgunned full of rock salt. It took all the fun out of it.


Today, my favorite wintertime activities involve a book and a cup of hot chocolate. So January does have an advantage: I can catch up on my reading. But that doesn’t really make up for the gas bill.



Last year, here in Indiana, we had a return to real Indiana winters. You know, the kind of stuff that leads on The Weather Channel. The kind of weather only snow plow drivers and ice fisherman like, and see above about mental health. For many previous years, our weather has largely just been miserable, instead of awful. But now we’ve returned to the kind of weather that led to the sale of T-shirts proclaiming “I survived the Blizzard of ‘78” … and if you had one of those shirts, you know “survived” wasn’t an exaggeration. )


ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)


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