February 2009 Newsletter

The next SKYWARN meeting is 17-Feb @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month. The meeting will be in an alternate room at the Fire Station due to the Amateur Radio class that night.

About 11 members attended the 20-Jan meeting. Topics discussed included:

  • Dave and Chris will be going to a training class at the NWS to become equipped to do the annual SKYWARN training locally.
  • Discussion took place about the pros/cons of using the 147.105 repeater as the primary communication link.
  • Dave will be writing an article for the newspaper in March as part of CAER and publicity for the class.
  • The January field trip for sweet spots was cancelled. Another outing is planned for 14-Feb after the OSCAR meeting.
  • Deuel NSL is working on a couple of WX Radio programming events for 2009.
  • Tim KCDKA was able to acquire some shelving components for storage in the dungeon.

Amateur Radio Class
OSCAR is hosting a Technician License class beginning 10-Feb. The free classes conclude with an exam session on 05-Mar. Details with updated information are posted on the OSCAR 2009 Class Page. Additional questions and pre-registration can be directed to class organizers Dale WBPKG and Tom NUW.

SKYWARN Training
Spotter class for Steele County is scheduled for Tuesday, 10-Mar. Details with updated information are posted on the SKYWARN 2009 Class Page. Contact Dave KCUVY for additional information. Although not a requirement, we encourage pre-registration with Bonnie (507-444-2454) at the Fire Station.

President's Volunteer Service Award Steele County Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) held their annual meeting on 08-Jan. Mike Johnson KCWQQ used the meeting to also recognize Steele County volunteers from other groups. The President's Volunteer Service Award program is a way to thank and honor Americans engaged in volunteer service. The award recognizes individuals that have achieved a certain standard measured by the number of hours served over a 12-month period or cumulative hours earned over the course of a lifetime. SKYWARN members recognized with awards included:

  • Dave KCUVY - Gold
  • Jeff KCUOW - Gold
  • Tom NUW - Gold
  • Deuel NSL - Bronze
Congratulation to all of the recipients, and thanks for your time and efforts.

How Does A Snowflake Form? From New Scientist A new generation of ice cloud chambers is set to give us the first detailed insight into this delicate process and could even help weather forecasters better predict when snow is likely to fall. A giant three-storey stainless steel cylinder can be cooled to temperatures as low as -50 C to simulate the conditions that produce snow. Ice crystals form when a burst of compressed air enters the tank. The air expands and cools, triggering water vapor in the chamber to freeze. As the ice crystals drift down the chamber they merge to create snowflakes. Hexagonal crystals dominate when the temperature is just below zero. But as it drops, the crystals become columnar and then switch back to hexagonal as it gets even colder.

Brief History of Snow Shoveling From Minnesota WeatherTalk
Tired of shoveling the white stuff yet? In 1870, a patent was granted for a snow shovel with a riveted metal tip for scrapping. Almost 20 years later, there was a patent application for a snow shovel that had both attachable scrapper and scooper. The first plastic snow shovel patent was granted in 1939. These are by far the most popular sold today, many with metal tips for scrapping. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and in Maine, something more substantial is required for the 100 to 200 inches of snow most winters. The yooper scooper comes to the rescue as a large bucket shaped shovel with sides.

Snow blowers and snow throwers have replaced the use of snow shovels for many areas of the country. As a result perhaps the number of heart attacks has been reduced. Unfortunately, serious accidents occur more often than desired. Be careful when clearing your driveway and sidewalk.

Artic Ice From Wunderground
There was an extraordinary summertime sea ice retreat in the Arctic. For the second consecutive year, the fabled Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic waters opened up. The melting of arctic sea ice the past two summers has a significant impact on the early winter weather over the Northern Hemisphere. The melting ice injects heat into the atmosphere. Several modeling studies suggest that sea ice melt on this scale is capable of causing a major shift in the jet stream. The sea ice loss induced a strong poleward flow of warm air over eastern Siberia, and a return flow of cold air from the Pole developed to compensate. This caused unusually cold and snowy winters in regions on either side of eastern Siberia--China and North America.

Odds of a Snow Day From USA Today
Does your child want to know the odds of having school cancelled due to snow on the day of the "big test"? Statistics for the odds of snow in a particular city on any given day is available at National Climatic Data Center website. Click on the state of interest, then select Station Snow Climatology on the following page. Select a station from the dropdown and drag until you see the station you're interested in. Keep in mind that this is completely statistically driven and takes into no account present weather patterns, but this should give some ballpark figures on how hard to study.

Word For The Month From Minnesota WeatherTalk
Three-Dog Night
We're not talking about the popular 1970s rock band here. The term is a weather association used in both Native Australian culture and Eskimo culture. When the nights are extremely cold and you need the company of your dogs to sleep warm enough, it is said to be a three-dog night.

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All Rights Reserved
Steele County SKYWARN
Owatonna, MN