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ALERT Newsletter

Hi Everyone,

I hope you made it through Thanksgiving and Black Friday unscathed or only slightly bruised. December will be a busy month for ALERT, as we look forward to Skywarn Recognition Day and the ALERT Christmas Party.

Skywarn Recognition Day was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the ARRL to honor the contributions that Skywarn volunteers make to the NWS mission – the protection of life and property during threatening weather.

During the Skywarn Special Event, hams will operate from ham equipped NWS offices. The object of the event is for all participating Amateur Radio stations to exchange contact information with as many NWS stations as possible on 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, and 2 meters plus 70 centimeters. Contacts via repeaters are permitted.

Starting at 6PM Friday December 1, the ALERT Team will activate K4NWS as part of this special event. Nationally the event runs for 24 hours. As in the past, the length of operations at K4NWS will be at the discretion of our responding operators. Usually they run it for 12 to 18 hours.

Bill Rodgers, K4FSO is coordinating the ALERT response and volunteers are welcome, including “drop in” operators.

We are anticipating having 11 to 15 or so operators participating. This number includes you!

For more information go to:

The ALERT Christmas Party will occur Tuesday December 12th during the regular meeting time.
Preceding the meeting there will be a Board of Directors meeting at 6:30.


On The Lighter Side Of Things

A ham, whose name shall remain secret, called the FCC to tell them he had moved and wanted to change his address on the FCC records from Texas to Vermont.

The man at the FCC who took his call asked where Vermont was.

As my Ham friend tried to explain, he interrupted and said,

“Look, I’m not stupid or anything, just tell me what state is it in?”


Two elderly hams had been friends for many decades.

Over the years they had shared all kinds of activities and adventures on the ham bands.
Lately, their activities have been limited to meeting a few times a week to play cards.
One day they were playing cards when one looked at the other and said, “Now don’t get mad at me…..I know we’ve been friends for a long time…..but I just can’t think of your name and your call.! I’ve thought and thought, but I can’t remember them.

Please tell me what they are.”

His friend glared at him. For at least three minutes he just stared and glared at the gray haired old man..

Finally he said, “How soon do you need to know?



Ham 1 — Hey I hear Old Megawatt is retiring from Ham Radio
Ham 2 — Yeah I heard him say that before
Ham 1 — I know, but this time the FCC said it!

Q: What’s the hardest part about dating a HAM radio operator?

A: They tend to send mixed signals.

“I know lots of jokes about capacitors, but I’d have to charge for them.
Plus, there’s a high level of resistance to this type of joke, as they are not current.

These puns are so bad it hertz.


Mark’s Almanac

December was the tenth Roman Month, from whence it gets its name. Among many Native American tribes it was called “the moon of clacking rocks”, as it was the time when they prepared and manufactured stone tools, implements and weapons, since the growing season being over, and bad weather prevented them from hunting.

December is the cloudiest month of the year, with only 40 to 60% of possible sunshine poking through the clouds. It is also the stormiest month of the year for the Continental US & the Gulf of Mexico. By “stormy” meaning large-scale storms, not necessarily the tornadic storms that they bring, even though we are still in our Second Tornado Season.

A region of heavy rainfall usually forms from Texas to Northwest Florida to Tennessee and Arkansas. Cold waves bringing rain, snow, ice and occasionally tornadoes, sweep across the region.

December can be cloudy and cold, and, then it can swing into spring like warmth, luring plants to bloom early, only to have the frosts and freezes return and the plants are “nipped in the bud”.

Hurricane season is now “officially” over, however Mother Nature sometimes throws a surprise in to make life interesting.

From 1851 – 2015 there have been 17 Tropical Storms and from 1822 to 2015 there have been 8 Category 1 hurricanes, but, none have ever struck the United States.

Two notable December hurricanes are:

Hurricane Alice of 1954, which is the only known Atlantic hurricane to span two calendar years and one of only two named Atlantic tropical cyclones, along with Tropical Storm Zeta of 2005, to do so.

Alice developed on December 30, 1954 from a trough of low pressure in the central Atlantic Ocean in an area of unusually favorable conditions. The storm moved southwestward and gradually strengthened to reach hurricane status. After passing through the Leeward Islands on January 2, 1955, Alice reached peak winds of 90 mph before encountering cold air and turning to the southeast. It dissipated on January 6 over the southeastern Caribbean Sea.

The last December hurricane to occur was Hurricane Epsilon during the 2005 season, the year in which we ran out of hurricane names. The year also featured Tropical Storm Zeta, the latest forming Tropical Storm which formed on December 30, 2005 and lasted until January 7, 2006.

Looking towards the sky, Mercury, magnitude –0.4, is very low in the southwest in the sunset afterglow. Scan for him with binoculars in the southwest no more than 20 or 30 minutes after sunset.

Venus, magnitude -3.9, rises before and dawn in the east-southeast.

Mars, magnitude +1.7, rises before and dawn in the east-southeast.

Jupiter, magnitude – 1.7, rises before and dawn in the east-southeast.

First up is Mars, the dimmest, accompanied by the star Spica. Then Jupiter rises well to their lower left a little before dawn begins.

Venus is getting extremely low and tough to spot as dawn grows bright. Look for her to rise far lower left of Jupiter. Their separation widens as Venus is sinking away.

Saturn, magnitude +0.5, is very low in the southwest in the afterglow of sunset. As with his neighbor Mercury, scan for him with binoculars in the southwest no more than 20 or 30 minutes after sunset. In the coming days Saturn will move down a little closer to Mercury, passing to his upper right.

Uranus, magnitude 5.7 in Pisces is high in the southeast in the early evenings.

Neptune, magnitude 7.9 in Aquarius is high in the south in the early evenings.

3558 planets beyond our solar system have now been confirmed as of November 17, per NASA’s Exoplanet Archive

Full Moon occurs at 15:47 UTC or 9:47 AM CST on December 3. This will also be a “Supermoon”, the moon being at its closest approach to Earth, and may appear slightly larger and brighter than usual. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Cold Moon because this is the time of year when the cold winter air settles in and the nights become long and dark. This moon has also been known as the Moon Before Yule and the Full Long Nights Moon.

The Geminid Meteor Shower, peaks on December 13-14. Geminids are one of the year’s best meteor showers. It is my favorite meteor shower. It’s a consistent and prolific shower, and usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers, even surpassing the more widely recognized Perseids of August. This shower typically produces 50 or more multicolored meteors an hour, or about one every minute.

As a general rule, the dazzling Geminid meteor shower starts around mid-evening and tends to pick up steam as evening deepens into late night. No matter where you live worldwide, the greatest number of meteors usually fall in the wee hours after midnight, or for a few hours centered around 2 a.m. local time. If you’re game, you can watch the Geminid shower all the way from mid-evening until dawn.

The waning crescent moon will be no match for the Geminids this year. The skies should still be dark enough for an excellent show.

The Geminids is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. It peaks this year on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th.

Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

New Moon occurs December 18 at 06:30 UTC or 12:30 AM CST when the Moon will on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

One target you could try for is galaxy Messier 31 otherwise known as M31 the Andromeda Galaxy.

In the evening, M31 is visible in the south and can be found by locating the Great Square of Pegasus. This is one of the easier star groupings as it is exactly what it says – a very large four star square with two “tails” coming off one corner.

Starting at the star where the “tail” attaches to the square, which is Alpha Andromedae, or Alpheratz, move up the left “tail” two stars to the star Mirach. Then turn 90 degrees to the right, and move the equivalent of half the distance from Alpheratz to Mirach.

You should easily spot M31, which as with most deep sky objects, will look nothing like the observatory photographs, but rather as a faint rice shaped object with binoculars and possibly it’s brightest satellite galaxies M32 & NCG110. If there is a dark sky, unpolluted sky, you can even see it with your unaided eye.

The photons that will be striking your retina left Andromeda over two million years ago.

Andromeda shares a special place in history and our understanding of the universe. One hundred years ago, galaxies, as we understand them did not exist. There was one galaxy, the Milky Way, and it was the known universe. Other spiral shaped objects, such as M31 and M33, the Pinwheel Nebula were thought to be part of the Milky Way and as one antique book I saw theorized, were solar systems in the process of being formed.

This began to change in 1917 when based on the dimness of a nova observed in Andromeda, as compared to other Milky Way novae, the theory was proposed that Andromeda was actually located outside of the Milky Way. Being an “island universe” as it was called. This sparked major debates until Edwin Hubble, whom the space telescope is named for, determined the true distance of the Andromeda Galaxy.

Andromeda, the Milky Way and The Pinwheel Galaxy are the prime galaxies in a galaxy cluster that has been given the awe inspiring name of “The Local Group” of galaxies, of which there are over 54 members. As knowledge increased it was found that the Local Group is in turn one of over 100 galaxy clusters that make up the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies. The Virgo Supercluster in turn is just one 10 million galaxy superclusters, and is in turn part of even a larger Laniakea Supercluster, which has the Hercules, Shapley, Coma and Perseus-Pisces Superclusters as neighbors, which in turn may be part of even a larger structure not yet identified.

These superclusters of superclusters stretch across the cosmos in streams like wisps of smoke, with vast voids in between, giving the Universe a structure like a tangled spider’s web, or bath bubbles, with the bubbles surface being made up of countless galaxies.

Andromeda and the Milky Way are a binary system orbiting around a common barycenter, or center of gravity or mass in between. Andromeda is also moving towards the Milky Way at 68 miles per second and in 4.6 billion years will collide with the Milky Way, their combined tidal forces destroying Andromeda’s spiral shape and the Milky Way’s barred spiral shape and combining to form a giant elliptical or disk shaped galaxy.

Studies also suggest that M33, the Pinwheel Galaxy — the third-largest and third-brightest galaxy of the Local Group — will participate in the collision event too. Its most likely fate is to end up orbiting the merged stars and nebulae of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies and finally to merge with it in an even more distant future.

However, a collision with the Milky Way, before it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy or an ejection from the Local Group due to gravitational quirks cannot be ruled out.

Such collisions are relatively common, considering galaxies’ long lifespans. Andromeda, for example, is believed to have collided with at least one other galaxy in the past, and several dwarf galaxies such as the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way are currently colliding with the Milky Way and being merged into it.

In such collisions interacting gravitational fields effect paths and orbits, generally the stars don’t actually collide, due to the wide distances between stars. They just pass through each other’s neighborhood. For example, the Sun probably was part of an open star cluster that is now drifted apart; it is now a rogue star currently passing through the fringe of the remnants of another open star cluster Collinder 285 or the Ursa Major Moving Group or Association, of which the majority of the stars of Ursa Major are a part. But, the distances are so great; there are no interactions between the occupants and the “visitor”.

Be that as it may, I don’t plan on hanging around for the Andromeda collision. By the time it starts, call me Felicia, but, I’m out of here.

Winter Solstice will be December 21 at 16:28 UTC or 10:28 AM CST. The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude. This is the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Ursid meteor shower, a minor meteor shower, which runs annually from December 17-25 will peak on the night and morning of December 21 – 22 producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790.

The crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for optimal observing. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, The Little Dipper, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Looking towards the sky, the stars of Winter have begun drifting into the night sky. Low in the southern sky is the bright star Fomalhaut.

Whenever Fomalhaut is “southing” (crossing the meridian due south, which it does around 7 p.m. now depending on your location), the first stars of Orion are just about to rise in the east, and the Pointers of the Big Dipper stand vertical straight below Polaris, towards The North Star.

Orion is also valuable as a rough navigation aid as the two left stars forming the elongated square forming Orion always lie on a general north / south line, and the bottom two stars of the square lie on a rough east / west line. Also, the lead star or right star in Orion’s belt, always ALWAYS rises due east and sets due west, no matter where you are on earth.



Christmas is my favorite time of the year.

Christmastime is a time of wonder & mystery. A time of bright lights, shining trees and the time of hide and seek, as presents are hid from inquiring minds and fingers.

A time one’s mind and memories drift back to days of childhood, and Christmases now long gone by. Remembering friends and family, some here, some now gone & longing that they were near once again, as it was once upon a time not so long ago. And, it is a time when, if we allow ourselves and don’t choose to “Grinch out” and be sour pusses, we can become kids once again.

Most importantly though, it’s a time to remember that the true “reason for the season” occurred in a manger, long ago on that first cold and chilly “Silent Night.”

So as you go about your Christmas preparations remember the magic that was there when you were a child & don’t let that magic die. Make it magic once again

For Christmas truly is “the most wonderful time of the year”.


Remember that this is YOUR newsletter. Articles for this newsletter are welcome and needed. Please consider sending an article, preferably amateur radio, meteorological or EMCOMM related.


This month’s meeting will feature the ALERT Christmas Party on December 12 at 1PM at the National Weather Service Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport.

Hope to see you there!
Mark / WD4NYL
ALERT Newsletter

Mark’s Weatherlynx
Weather Resource Database

Hi everyone,
As we enter into the heart of Autumn we also enter our second tornado season.  While the Spring season gets the most attention, the fall season is not to be underestimated and is in fact often the more severe of the two seasons.
It is a good time to remember and revisit your preparations, which includes batteries, equipment and other supplies, the freshness of your training and the your ability to get urgent warnings in a timely manner, preferably by at least two methods, such as NOAA Weatheradio and smartphone apps.
Though I do enjoy, and some might say, am somewhat addicted to tracking severe storms, I hate what they do, and the misery that they cause.   So while I find them endlessly fascinating, I hope this will be the dullest season on record.
Our next ALERT meeting will be November 14 at 7PM at the National Weather Service Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport.
At this meeting we will vote on the proposed 6th Amendment to the ALERT Bylaws, which was detailed in last month’s newsletter.
I hope to see you there!


Stone Age Radios
It was a pretty October day, with a deep blue sky and just a hint of autumn in the air.  
Virgil was a 13 year old boy who had just seen something demonstrated in his school science class which he wanted to try.  The problem was it was during the Great Depression, and his family could barely afford air, let alone “gizmos to tinker with”.  So he began the time honored art of scrounging.
From Joe at Stedman’s Fix It shop he was given a transformer from a “busted” Philco “Cathedral” radio and the ear piece from an equally “busted” telephone.  Mr.’s Gentry’s garbage provided a Quaker oatmeal box and Tommy at McCutchen’s Drug Store gave him a little bottle of yellow sulfur, just because Virgil’s aunt was pretty, and Tommy felt that any inroad towards that elusive goal wouldn’t hurt.  
Other odds and ends were easy enough to get – a few paperclips, some masking tape, a bottle cap and thumb tacks. Along with these, he grabbed the old King Edward Cigar box that Grandpa had given him, which already housed a treasure trove of hidden secrets – his sling shot, marbles, and an arrowhead he was sure had been shot by the Great War Chief Cochise himself.
Having gathered all the essentials, he began his quest.  The transformer he took behind the house to his Dad’s garage, and grabbing a claw hammer he began hitting the casing, being careful not to damage the wire, until the laminated frame became loose.  He then removed the laminations and began uncoiling the wire, winding the wire around a short board.
Then, after looking at the Quaker guy’s hat and thinking how much better he would look if he wore a Gene Autry hat, he took a nail and poked two small holes about a half inch apart and an inch from the right end of the box.  He then took the wire, formed a curve in the end, and fed it into one hole on the oatmeal box and out the second.  He gently fed the wire through until about a foot came through.  He taped the wire near the hole to keep it from slipping and then moving in a counterclockwise fashion to the left, closely wound the wire around the box 120 times.  He taped the wire lengthwise to hold it in place, and then cut the wire leaving a pigtail a few inches long.  He then poked two holes on the left side of the box in the same fashion as the other two on the right side and fed the pigtail through the holes, taping it in place, but, cutting the wire shorter, as it would not be connected to anything.  He scrapped the enamel off of the end of the long pigtail the wire from the right side of the coil, and placed the coil in the cigar box, securing it with thumbtacks.  “Coil complete” he said.
He then placed four thumbtacks along the lower part of the box, and with a pencil marked “G” for ground, for the headphone black wire and ground wire, “+” for the headphone white wire, “A” for the aerial, “C” for the crystal connection point, “W” for the thin ”cat whisker” wire and a pencil mark in the middle of the box to mark where the “tuner” rod, as the teacher called it, would be mounted.  “Ok” he said. 
He took a clothes hanger, scraped the paint off, curled one end and tacked it to the board.  He then gently sanded the coil and bent the clothes hanger wire until it firmly touched the coil.  Then he coiled a wire around the bottom of the rod, connecting it to the “A” aerial connection and then finished placing the other wires on the board – another wire from the rod to the “C” crystal connection point, the thin “cat whisker” wire to the “W” point and from there another wire to the “+” point where the white headphone wire was then connected.  The wire from the coil he connected to the “G” ground point along with the black headphone wire.  
 “Now for the tricky part” he said.
He took a large pinch of yellow sulfur and placed it into an RC Cola bottle cap. He then carefully melted lead from an old wheel weight in a large spoon using his Dad’s blow torch and carefully dripped the melted lead over the sulfur to dissolve or melt the sulfur powder while trying not to breathe the fumes.  As he heated it up, gaseous sulfur spewed out from around the edges and it caught fire and stank to high heaven, or perhaps more appropriately, like Hades far below. 
Two things he hoped for. One, that he didn’t burn Dad’s garage down, Two, that Mom didn’t catch him and assume that he was doing what she had caught his brothers Dave and Carl doing last week.  Namely smoking Lucky Strikes behind the garage, the consequences of which was not in the least bit pretty.
Well, three things actually, this mess of junk actually working would be nice also.
When everything calmed down, and the noxious fumes cleared, there was an area around the metallic lead, a sort of black “crud” that had resulted. There were no ‘visible’ crystals.
As he waited for the bottle cap to cool down he attached the “ground” wire to the water faucet pipe and the “G” ground point on the board where the coil and black headphone wire were connected and then uncoiled fifty feet or so of wire, hanging one end in a tree and attaching the other end to the “A” aerial connection, where the wire from the rod was connected.
After the bottle cap and contents cooled he attached a wire from the “crystal connection point” to the bottle cap with a paper clip and then poked and prodded the black spots with the cat’s whisker wire and until suddenly he heard a voice in the earpiece fading in saying “as the images of the smoldering ruins of Warsaw come in, the evacuation of children from London continues, with the threat of German aerial attacks looming ever closer.  In sports news the Yankees hope to sweep the Reds in tonight’s Game 4 of the 1939 World Series.  The long ball proved the trick last night with homers by Keller, Dickey and DiMaggio as the Reds went down 7 to 3.  This is NBC, the National Broadcasting Company. 930 on your dial, you are listening to the WBRC Birmingham”.


Sliding the arm up the coil, suddenly Kay Kyser faded in singing:“Down in the meadow in a little bitty poolSwam three little fishies and a mama fishie too”Swim” said the mama fishie, “Swim if you can”And they swam and they swam all over the damBoop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!And they swam and they swam all over the dam ‘”
It works! He smiled.
Four years later in some misty field near Anzio Italy, his brother Dave took the bayonet off his M1 Garand rifle, attached a wire to it and plunged it into the ground, to make the “ground” for his radio.  He used the same basic design as his brother Virgil’s, except instead of “cooking a crystal” he used a Shick razor blade.  He had taken the blade, put some water on it, sprinkled some salt on it, and let it sit for a day or so until it started rusting.  He then took a pencil, shaving the wood back to expose an inch of lead, around which copper wire was wound.  For headphones he used a pair he salvaged from a “knocked out” German Tiger tank.  Moving and probing the razor blades rusty spots with the pencil he suddenly heard faint static and Italian music being pulled in from the air.
Halfway around the world in the Pacific, his brother Carl was already using the same setup and was listening to the Andrews Sisters singing about “Rum and Coca Cola” when the lady announcer named Tokyo Rose called his unit by name and location, cheerfully telling them “We hope you are enjoying your visit in the jungle. Just remember that the jungle is where we live, and the jungle is where you will die.”
Twenty three years later Virgil, Dave and Carl’s nephews, bothers Mark and Sonny, a ham operator, K4FHX, were stringing an antenna across the yard, connected to a weird conglomeration of parts – wire, an oatmeal box and such.  Sonny, after looking in a parts junk box held up a tiny gizmo that looked like a bead of glass with wires from each end, said “This is a 1N34 diode.  A 1N60 or a 1N270 will work too. If you’re stripping a board for parts and are not sure, just look for the one that looks like glass, and it will probably work.”   
He popped the diode into place, moved the rod and from the earphone came “…on such a winter’s day’, ’California dreaming on such a winter’s day’.   That’s The Mamas & The Papas, a special dedication from Diane to her boyfriend Wayne, hoping he is safe, somewhere near Da Nang.  WSGN 610 Birmingham.”
The story you have just read is true and the moral is simple.  Over the years it has been proven that with the proper knowledge and some “junk”, a simple radio receiver such as this can be made using either the “homemade crystal” method or the variations that came later, such as using a razor blade aka a “POW radio” or using a modern detector diode as my brother and I did.
Why is this important?
Tonight as you read this, there are people in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Lesser Antilles who are still sitting in the dark, isolated from any contact with the outside world, feeling very lonely, very bewildered and barely clinging to hope.  If someone had the information I just detailed, they could, literally from junk, produce a radio receiver, that, even if the station was broadcasting in a foreign tongue, would at least make them feel a little less alone, and at the best keep them informed of what is happening, where to find help and take the terror out of the long dark night.  
The technology described is, by modern standards “ancient technology”.  But, just as the design worked in 1939, 1943 and 1966, it will still work in 2017, and will continue to work as long as the AM Broadcast Band continues to use amplitude modulation.  



Figure 1 – POW Radio
(Yes, it’s actually spelled “safety”. You can use a crystal diode in place of the razor blade, with the black stripe connected to the headphone point and a 2 liter plastic bottle used as the coil form in place of an oatmeal box)
This is also dying technology, for how many of us; still know how to do this?
My uncle Virgil died a few years ago at age 99.  And, though we had every intention to do so, we never got around to seeing how he made a “crystal” for his homemade crystal radio.  The exact directions on how to do this cannot be found on the internet.  The process described was obtained by putting together bits and pieces of information gathered from various sources and anecdotal accounts which I finally pieced together to fill in the puzzle.    
While such a venture may seem simplistic in these days of smartphones and other modern devices, learning some of the “ancient” technology such as this, can be a lifesaver, for when nothing else will work, these still do.
This also goes to illustrate the point that if you possess such knowledge, it is very important that you pass that knowledge down to others to keep the knowledge alive.
All cultures, whether primitive or advanced possess what is known as “tribal knowledge”.
“Tribal knowledge” is the knowledge that a civilization has gathered and learned over the centuries, and is passed on by the elders to the young.  This can range from the “simple” knowledge of day to day survival as passed down by primitive cultures such as the Aboriginals of Australia or the Zulus of Africa, to in our “modern society” a father showing his son how to fish, change a tire, fix plumbing problems or a brother showing his kid brother simple electronics. This is usually done by just letting them be a part of the experience, such as “Hey son, can you lend me a hand?”, and them learning by watching and doing.
This knowledge is passed on a person to person basis, and not usually taught in schools or classes.  And, if not passed down, it eventually fades from the collective memory of mankind and dies.
For example, there are many who are researching and relearning the survival and cultural knowledge and techniques of the Native American and First Nations tribes, as they are called in Canada.  This knowledge, due to their assimilation into modern society, has not been passed down to the younger generations and is in danger of being lost forever.  Many have turned to the still primitive peoples in remote areas of the world to relearn knowledge that was commonplace even 100 years ago.  This is also true of the pioneer and rural day to day living methods and customs, once common, but, now in danger of fading into the mists of time. 
This knowledge is important for many reasons, ranging from simple preservation of history to knowing how to use this knowledge should our 21st century society suddenly be reverted to 19th century conditions, due either to a devastating war, which has happened elsewhere in the recent past, or an overwhelming natural calamity reducing society to Third World conditions, as we see in Puerto Rico.
We adults have a responsibility to pass our knowledge on to those following us, whether it is practical technology, building, planting, cooking or repairing, and common things like riding a bike or throwing a ball, and, even more importantly, how to conduct oneself in society.    
Ham operators have traditionally acted as mentors or “Elmers” to our “young” – our new operators, by passing on their knowledge and helping make the mystery of ham radio less mysterious and less scary.  For I remember how scared I was when I made my first contact, 40 years ago.  It is up to us “Elmers” to explain how to set up a station, and teach what to do and say and perhaps even more importantly, what to not do or say on the air. 
One inherent danger and result of the modern “fast track” approach to ham radio licensing is that this mentoring or “Elmering” is largely, but, unintentionally, absent from the process. Perhaps this problem could be resolved by having a pool of volunteers available to help the newcomers, so they know where to reach out when they need help. 
It is our responsibility as individual hams to be welcoming and as possible offer to help our newer hams, either with advice or hands on actual “muscle work”, and to be encouraging, rather than discouraging, and positive rather than negative, and showing the same patience we had shown to us  or wish we had been shown “way back when.”
We all are teachers and we all set examples, whether we realize it or not.  Some are good examples to be emulated and some are good examples of what NOT to do or how NOT to behave on the air.
So I invite you, and challenge you to be willing to share your unique knowledge and experience with others, whether it is knowledge of ham radio or any other skill you have. Doing so in a friendly, non-know it all way.  Welcome our new hams. Help them, encourage them and lead them by example.
You will find that they want to learn.
It being early in the morning, and me, not having much sense in the morning, or other times for that matter, will add a little example.
When I was very much younger my family and I went on an overland trip to visit my brother Sonny who was now living in New Mexico.  When we got back we found a black Persian cat with a single gray kitten, who I named Blackie and Smokey.
We fully intended to, and eventually did “get them fixed.” But, before we could do that, a few months later we went out of town again, and when we got back Blacie and Smokey had started plumping up and we realized that they both were “great with kitten”.  A month later Blackie had four kittens and Smokey had three kittens, the whole brood of which we kept and eventually had the future potential problems “fixed”.
One day I noticed Blackie had caught a rat.  Lined up were all seven kittens watching intently as Blackie would let it go and let it almost get away before catching it again.  The realization hit me that she was teaching her students how to hunt.
Then there was the case of Boots and Clyde.  Boots was a kitten which along with his brother Charlie, someone dumped in the field in front of my house, my house apparently being Noah’s Ark, a few years later.  Blackie didn’t want to be bothered with him, and so she didn’t teach him anything.  Instead he followed a rogue Siamese cat I called Clyde, as everyone recieved a name, rather than calling it “Old Whatchamaycallit” or “Stray Cat Number 13”.
Clyde was a friendly rogue, not mine or anyone else’s, just the neighborhood Romeo, and Clyde was also very cross eyed and had zero depth perception beyonda few feet.  He could catch things buy lying in wait and hopefully pouncing at the right time, or as I saw once, just lying in plain sight until the mockingbird that was harassing Blackie started dive bombing him instead and got just a little too close and a big Siamese paw grabbed it.
Boots learned how to hunt from Clyde.  He could catch snakes and squirrels, anything he could ambush, but, birds, no.  He would gallop toward a flock of a hundred blackbirds who quickly flew off, making obscene gestures at him, leaving him looking very confused.    The only birds Boots ever caught was when he came home with a fully cooked Cornish hen he apparently swiped from someone’s picnic, and the day he appeared with a live rooster from who knows where, which he chased home during an sleet storm.
But, this was exactly how cross eyed Clyde had taught Boots.
The moral of the story is simple.  These things aren’t learned or perfected by instinct, they are taught.
What have you taught your kittens today?


Mark’s Almanac
With the arrival of November we enter our second tornado season.  Alabama and the Southeast are “blessed” by being the only area on Earth having two tornado seasons.  And, the cause of the second season is the same as the spring season – clashes of cold and warm air masses.  The cold air of winter is invading and trying to push the warmth of the summer back into the sea, which is the same process of springtime.
This second season is often more destructive than the spring season.  So beware of a warm & muggy November day.  Especially one with a south wind, as something may really be “in the air”.
The Hurricane threat greatly diminishes, with hurricane activity occurring mainly in the open Atlantic, threatening the Eastern Seaboard, but usually veering off into sea as cold fronts off the East Coast deflect them.  Hurricanes can still form in the Caribbean, which usually visit the Yucatan, but can enter the Gulf.
From 1851 – 2015 there have been 90 Tropical Storms and 59 hurricanes, 5 of which made landfall in the United States.   Some notable November hurricanes are:
The 1932 Cuba hurricane, known also as the Hurricane of Santa Cruz del Sur or the 1932 Camagüey hurricane. Although forming as a tropical depression on October 30, it became the only Category 5 Atlantic hurricane ever recorded in November, was the deadliest and one of the most intense tropical cyclones in Cuban history. On November 6, the tropical cyclone reached its peak intensity as a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph. The storm weakened to Category 4 intensity as it came ashore in Cuba’s Camagüey Province on November 9 with winds of 150 mph.  The storm took 3,033 lives.
Hurricane Ida, in 2009 was the strongest land falling tropical cyclone during the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season. Ida formed on November 4 in the southwestern Caribbean, and within 24 hours struck the Nicaragua coast with winds of 80 mph.  It weakened significantly over land, although it restrengthened in the Yucatán Channel to peak winds of 105 mph. Ida weakened and became an extratropical cyclone in the northern Gulf of Mexico before spreading across the southeastern United States. The remnants of Ida contributed to the formation of a nor’easter that significantly affected the eastern coast of the United States. 1985’s Hurricane Kate was the latest Hurricane in any calendar year to strike the United States.Kate formed on November, 15 and reached hurricane intensity on November 16, and reached Category 2 intensity three days later. Kate struck the northern coast of Cuba on November 19. Once clear of land, she strengthened quickly, becoming a Category 3 storm and reached its peak intensity of 120 mph. On November 21 Kate came ashore near Mexico Beach, Florida, as Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph.
Hurricane Lenny, or Wrong Way Lenny, occurred in 1999. It is the second-strongest November Atlantic hurricane on record, behind the 1932 Cuba hurricane. Lenny formed on November 13 in the western Caribbean Sea and moved retrograde from the West to East passing South of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.  He reached hurricane status south of Jamaica on November 15 and rapidly intensified over the northeastern Caribbean on November 17, attaining peak winds of 155 mph near Saint Croix in the United States Virgin Islands. It gradually weakened while moving through the Leeward Islands, eventually dissipating on November 23 over the open Atlantic Ocean.
1994’s Hurricane Gordon claimed 1122 lives in Haiti when it passed just west of the country as a tropical storm on November 13, 1994.
Hurricane season ends November 30.


Figure 2 – November Tropical Cyclone Breeding Grounds
The blooms of summer have faded, but you may find yourself still sneezing, due to ragweed and mold.
Mold is a fall allergy trigger. You may think of mold growing in your basement or bathroom – damp areas in the house – but mold spores also love wet spots outside. Piles of damp leaves are ideal breeding grounds for mold.Oh, and did I mention dust mites? While they are common during the humid summer months, they can get stirred into the air the first time you turn on your heat in the fall. Dust mites can trigger sneezes, wheezes, and runny noses.
November welcomes the peak of fall colors.  For Birmingham the peak occurs around November 15, but the date can vary depending on your elevation & latitude.
Indian Summer and Squaw Winter continue to battle it out, but the cool or cold weather will eventually win, with the first average frost being on November 11.  
The usual fall effects occur in North America with Canada’s Hudson Bay becoming unnavigable due to pack ice & icebergs.  Navigation in the Great Lakes becomes perilous due to storms bringing the “Gales Of November” made famous in the Gordon Lightfoot song “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald”.
And, don’t be surprised if you hear ducks overhead & see wedges of Canadian geese heading south for the winter.  And if you see strange birds appearing in your front yard, remember that for 336 species of birds Alabama IS south for the winter.
Looking towards the sky, Mercury is hidden in the glare of the Sun at the first of the month.  He will gradually emerge from his hiding spot and on November 24 will reach greatest eastern elongation of 22.0 degrees above the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.
Venus shining at magnitude –3.9 rises around the beginning of dawn and shines very low due east as dawn brightens.
Mars shining at magnitude +1.8, only 1/200 as bright as Venus, is higher in the dawn, to the upper right of Venus. Their separation grows to 14° by the 28th. Venus is slowly getting lower, Mars higher.
Jupiter is passing behind the Sun and will emerge in the morning sky as the month progresses. 
On November 13 there will be a spectacular conjunction of Venus and Jupiter visible in the morning sky. The two bright planets will be extremely close, appearing only 0.3 degrees apart. Look for this impressive pairing in the Eastern sky just before sunrise.
Saturn shining at magnitude +0.5, in southern Ophiuchus, glows low in the southwest at dusk.
Uranus shining at magnitude 5.7, in Pisces is well up after dark in the east.
Neptune shining at magnitude 7.8 in Aquarius well up after dark in the southeast.
Full Moon will occur at 05:23 UTC or 12:23 AM CST November 4.  November’s Full Moon is called “Beaver Moon” in Native American folklore, because this was the time of year to set the beaver traps before the swamps and rivers froze. It has also been known as the Frosty Moon.
The Taurid Meteor Shower will occur the night of November 4 & 5.  This is a minor shower producing only 5 to 10 meteors per hour.  It is an unusual shower in that it consists of two separate meteor streams.  The first stream is dust grains left behind from Asteroid 2004 TG10, while the second stream is debris from Comet 2P Encke.  The shower runs from September 7 to December 10, but, peaks overnight on November 4 & 5.  Unfortunately the glare from the full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors. If you are extremely patient, you may still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
The annual Leonid meteor shower occurs from November 6 – 30 and peaks on the night of November 17 & the morning of the 18th.  Though the Leonids are an “average shower”, producing only an average of 15 meteors per hour, they are well known for producing bright meteors and fireballs. 
This shower is also unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids are produced by dust grains left behind by Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. 
Its productivity varies per year, but it can deposit 12 to 13 tons of particles across the planet.  Which is why having an atmosphere to shield us is such a nifty thing.
The nearly new moon will not be a problem this year. Skies should be dark enough for what should be good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
New Moon will occur November 18. The Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 11:42 UTC or 5:42 AM CST. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
3545 planets beyond our solar system have now been confirmed as of October 26, per NASA’s Exoplanet Archive
Finally, don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour at 2 AM, Sunday morning November 5th, as Daylight Savings Time ends.  
Remember that according to the National Time Act of 2014 states you MUST wait until 2 AM to reset your clocks, or you will be in violation of Section 15, Paragraph 114, Subset 195485 (24(234b)) (see page 4537) of said act.   
I saw it on social media, so it must be true.  For NO ONE would post unverified mush on the internet, oh perish the thought.



This month’s meeting will be on November 14 at 7PM at the National Weather Service Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport.
If for some reason you cannot attend the meeting in person, you can still participate via telephone.  The teleconference number is 1-877-951-0997 & and the participant code is 741083.Hope to see you there!Mark / WD4NYLEditorALERT Newsletter
Mark’s Weatherlynx Weather Resource Database

Hi everyone and welcome to the October ALERT Newsletter.
Fall has arrived and with it we can look forward to the changing of the fall leaves, the occasional nip in the air, and the Hobgoblins that will visit us at the end of the month.
October is a fun time of the year, being not too hot and not too cold – the “Goldilocks” of seasons.  
It is a time to enjoy fall football, the baseball playoffs and the last outdoor adventures of the year.
Here is hoping that you enjoy the days that this season brings, and the pretty weather October brings.  Letting you rest before the storms of Fall.




Proposed Amendment 6
On September 12, 2017 the ALERT Board of Directors met and following proposed amendment to the ALERT Bylaws was discussed and approved by unanimous vote of those attending: Casey Benefield, NZ20, Ronnie King, WX4RON, Johnnie Knobloch, KJ4OPX, Russell Thomas, KV4S, Dale Chambers, KD4QHZ and Mark Wells, WD4NYL.
In accordance with the Bylaws, notice is hereby given that the following Amendment will be considered and voted upon at the regular membership meeting on November 14th 2017.
Amendment 6 ARTICLE VIIISection 1.  The Fourth Amendment of the ALERT Constitution and Bylaws is hereby repealed.
Section 2.The Board of Directors shall be composed of the President, immediate past President, Trustee of the station and 2 operational “At Large” members appointed by the President.
The “At Large” members shall serve terms of one and two years, the two-year member being chosen every even year.  And, are eligible for reappointment if so desired by the President.
The President shall appoint members to fill any vacancies occurring within the year Section 3.This action shall become effective July 2018.”


Rationale:The 4th Amendment was originally created to compensate for the absence of a permanent member who at the time, had duties in another organization, and was unable to attend the board meetings. Later, that member stepped down, allowing for a new member to take his place.  
By reverting to the original Board makeup it eliminates the possibility of a tie vote.
Section 3 prevents having to change composition of the Board in the current ALERT year.
For reference, current Amendment 4 reads as follows:
Section 2. The Board of Directors shall be composed of the President, immediate past President, Trustee of the station and 3 operational “At Large” members appointed by the President. 
Two “At Large” members shall serve terms of one year and one “At Large” member shall serve for two years. The two-year member will be chosen every even year. Members are eligible for reappointment if so desired by the President. 
The President shall appoint members to fill any vacancies occurring within the year. (Ratified June 9, 2015)

Birmingham NWS Fall 2017 Spotter Courses

The Birmingham NWS office will present several online Basic Spotter Courses and a single Advanced Spotter Course this fall. These online classes allow individuals to complete the course(s) in the comfort of their own home or office with the use of  meeting site.
By attending any course, which runs about 1.5 – 2 hours, individuals or a group of individuals will become SKYWARN Spotters. 
Unless you are in need of or just want to attend a refresher Course, you do not need to attend more than one Basic SKYWARN Course, as the material covered is the same; however it is required you to attend at least one Basic SKYWARN Course before taking the Advanced SKYWARN Course. 
These courses are two-way, meaning you will be able to interact with the meteorologist leading the training. You will be muted while training is in-progress, and unmuted when applicable (e.g., for questions); or, you can use the built-in chat feature.
The current schedule is as follows:
Basic Class            Wednesday, October 4 at 1:00 PM    Online  Use Session Code 337-446-995Basic Class            Tuesday, October 17 at 1:00 PM       Online  Use Session Code 710-382-215Basic Class        Thursday, October 19 at 6:30 PM     Online  Use Session Code 696-520-589Advanced Class    Tuesday, October 24 at 6:30 PM       Online  Use Session Code 495-34-822
Enter the session code at
There will be one live Basic Class this fall:
Basic Class            Tuesday, November 7 at 6:00 PM    Northport/Tuscaloosa Alabama Northport Public Safety Building 3721 26th Avenue, Northport, AL

These classes will help you provide the NWS the vital “ground truth” information they need to verify radar indications, target their attention and help you relay reports in a clear manner to the NWS, either directly via the ……. number or via chat or amateur radio.  This knowledge helps Skywarn Net Control stations filter reports, by giving them knowledge of what reporting stations are trying to describe.  This way they can tell if the report is a valid report, an invalid report by an overly excited operator or a valid, but, poorly described report, which without this knowledge would be mistakenly dismissed.
For further information on these classes visit:
The following article is based on an actual incident which occurred recently where it was requested that 911 be called, but no further information was given.  By the time the needed information was received so that 911 could dispatch the correct department going to the correct location, the person had recovered to the point that he refused help when the paramedics arrived.  While the situation resolved itself with a happy ending, the potential for a tragedy was very real.
Just two simple missing items, namely the nature of the problem and the actual location within the generalized location froze the EMS response until the 911 operator could reach the person calling, and get the information needed to determine WHO should respond and WHERE they should respond.  This situation was complicated by the fact that the caller had hung up the phone and wandered away to stare at the scene.
In response to this I generated some guidelines and posted them on social media and at work to help people know what to do when they need to call 911.  
Before I begin those guidelines it should be mentioned that if you find yourself needing 911 whether being at the scene of an incident, whether it be an accident, a medical emergency or a disaster, don’t assume that someone has or is calling 911.
As a paramedic recently told us in a CPR class which I attended, “Just because you see a dozen people will cellphones out, don’t assume that anyone is calling 911.  Most are taking pictures so they can post it on social media”.  “If you are the one giving CPR point to a specific person and direct them to call 911.”
Here then are Mark’s Guidelines For Calling 911:
“’CALL 911!’(‘click’ as the caller hangs up) 
That is NOT how to tell someone to call 911, NOR is the similar “SEND HELP” (‘click”) the way to call 911.
If a situation arises where you or someone you ask needs to call 911 there two pieces of information the 911 operator will absolutely need.
1. Nature of the emergency. 
Even if you can only say or text “fire” it will help in getting the correct department heading your way. A lady in labor doesn’t need the SWAT team & the only thing paramedics can do with an active shooter is throw syringes at them like darts and squirt them with IV fluids. 
A wreck and an armed robbery require different responses. The same is true for heart attacks vs a staple in the hand.
2. The exact location of the emergency and the victim. 
If you call from a cell phone the address will not be displayed on the dispatcher’s caller ID, the call will automatically be routed to the nearest 911 center by the cell tower, which may be in a different city or different county. If you are calling form a cell phone or if you are calling from different location than the scene, they will need the correct address of the incident. And, just saying “the mall” doesn’t help at all, WHERE in the mall?  Some malls, for example The Summit, are almost cities within cities.
The same is true of roadways.  They will need the street name, cross street, highway mile marker or some sort of address to pin point the location.  “By the service station on Green Springs” won’t help.  There are seven service stations I can think of on Green Springs and Green Springs itself is at least five miles long.  BE SPECIFIC.
Just these two missing pieces of information will freeze up or slow the EMS response time to a snail’s pace, because they have no idea of the situation they are heading into or even where the situation is actually located.
Also, unless you, for safety sake cannot remain on the phone or are giving CPR, STAY ON OR NEAR THE PHONE so the dispatcher can get any other needed information.
Remember, in an emergency every second counts.”
One item I will throw in is that many parents give their children old cellphones to play with, not knowing that even though the phone may be deactivated, they are by federal requirements still able to call 911. 
Children playing and calling 911 have tied up operators nationwide as they have to deal with Little Timmy’s call.
So, if you give your child a phone to play with, just remove the battery.
This information, is really common sense, but, apparently not as widely known as it should be.So I would urge you to share this information with others, including family members and coworkers.
Just the act of sharing may save lives. 
Maybe even your own.

“Lessons Learned From Irma & Friends”
In last month’s newsletter I discussed emergency preparedness and included a brief section titled “Lessons Learned From Katrina & Friends”.
Since then Irma and Maria have occurred and I feel the list should be updated with some lessons learned from these storms also.
1.  Just as one should be aware of the National press in some cases “over embellishing” situations, one should also beware of “know it all’s” downplaying the situation and ridiculing those showing concern and taking the situation seriously.  
The danger of people who choose to do this is that it causes people to second guess their resolve and actions and leads them to delay in preparing, and then when it is clear they should have already taken action, it is much harder to do so due to gridlocked highways blocking escape, and if riding out the storm, finding massive shortages of needed materials, including time, as the storm is literally knocking on their door.
Critics become unusually silent once this occurs.  Comfortably silent, I might add, as they usually live 600 miles from the affected area, and suffer no consequences from their ill-advised words.
2. As mentioned in last month’s article, if the NWS says “prepare” – you had better prepare.  You first choice for information should always be the local NWS office and meteorologists local to your area.  They will know the local factors and quirks, whether it is the influence of terrain, or unexplained local quirks that help make up the microclimate, which sometimes cause conditions to defy the textbooks, which out of town forecasters, no matter how good they are in their own locale, will not be aware of.  That also applies to major “alternant weather sources” such as The Weather Channel, Accuweather and Intellicast. Though they are good resources, if there is a local weather source, go with them.
3.  Beware of bogus forecasts on social media and “armchair meteorologists”, such as I.  Follow Number 2 above.
4. Gather and store the necessary hardware needed to secure your location from the storm when they skies are blue.  Buying hurricane supplies at Christmas may sound strange, but, it “stacks the deck” in your favor by not having to desperately search items when the sky starts falling in.
5. August’s solar eclipse resulted in the largest peacetime mass migration in history.  Returning eclipse viewers found that even if the major traffic routes were gridlocked, the alternant routes were wide open.  This is good information for evacuations as well.
Get a map, and learn how to use it, and look for backup routes.  Study and learn when no storm is near, and desperation isn’t clawing at your door.  
Understand that smartphone resources such as Google Maps are internet dependent and that if you lose signal, you are navigationally blind.  
There are GPS apps for smartphones that do work, so make sure you have the real thing.  Better yet, get a portable GPS unit also, so you won’t drain your phone battery, and so if one method fails, you still have the other.
Also, be aware that ALL maps, whether paper, Google Maps, MapQuest or GPS systems are out of date by some degree, as roadwork is constantly being done, and it takes time for the manufacturers to update their data.  Also, on occasion, database mistakes are made. 
For instance, unless they have corrected the error, if you put 1 Robert Smith Drive, Birmingham AL in MapQuest, it will direct you to Robert Jemison Drive instead.  As I tell people, “you have to put 1 Robert S Smith Drive. Don’t leave out the ‘S’”.
6. You can extend your cellphone battery life for hours by going into settings and choosing “low power mode”, turning off Wi-Fi if you are not using it and going into “airplane mode”.
7. You can extend your cellphone battery for days by having a “contact person” and having a prearranged contact schedule, where the person knows “I will call you daily around 6PM”, and turning the phone off between those times, until you regain the ability to recharge the battery.
8. When considering preparing, in addition to the need of preparing for the situation approaching, also factor in the need for preparing for those who will be preparing and are clearing out the stores.


Mark’s Almanac
“This place gets more rain in 12 months than some places get in a year” – Russell Coight – “All Aussie Adventures” 2001The tenth Month, October is so named because it is the eighth month on the Roman calendar.  To the Slavs of Eastern Europe it is called “yellow month,” from the fading of the leaves, while to the Anglo-Saxons it was known as Winterfylleth, because at this full moon (fylleth) winter was supposed to begin.
By whichever name you call it, October is a mild and dry month, the driest of the year, in fact.  And, it is a sunny month with the amount of possible sunshine reaching the ground in the 60% or greater range.
Weather shifts from autumn pattern to revisiting the summer pattern and back again. The Azores-Bermuda High shifts eastward into the Atlantic, but, leaves weakened high pressure centers over the Virginias, which still try to block out approaching fronts.
October is usually a quite month for tornadoes, with a 40% decrease in activity.  Nationwide an average of 28 tornadoes occur in October and those tornadoes are usually weak.
Our Hurricane threat continues, with hurricane activity increasing during the first half of the month, concentrating in the Caribbean, both from formation in the Caribbean and from the long track Cape Verde hurricanes, which enter the Caribbean.  And, we still have the little “gifts” that the Gulf of Mexico occasionally will provide.  
Florida, due to its low latitude, becomes especially vulnerable to hurricanes.  As Colorado State University researchers note, since 1851, Florida has endured 30 October hurricane landfalls, nearly triple the next highest state — Louisiana, which has had eight. Also, about 60 percent of all U.S. hurricanes that made landfall after September 26 have done so in Florida.  One factor being the cold fronts of Fall penetrating the Gulf and then deflecting storms towards the West coast of Florida.
Luckily after the second half of the month the activity will begin a steady decrease.  
28% of the year’s hurricanes occur in October.
From 1851 – 2015 there have been 338 Tropical Storms and 203 hurricanes, 54 of which made landfall in the United States.  
Some notable October hurricanes are:
The Great Hurricane of 1780, also known as Huracán San Calixto, the Great Hurricane of the Antilles, and the 1780 Disaster, the deadliest Atlantic hurricane, which killed between 20,000 to 22, 000 people in the Lesser Antilles as it passed through from October 10 – 16, 1780.  It is possible that it had winds in excess of 200 MPH when it reached Barbados.  
Hurricane Hazel struck the Carolinas in 1954.  Weather satellite did not yet exist and the Hurricane Hunters were unable to observe the core of the storm until it neared land on October 15.  Hazel made landfall just west of the North Carolina/South Carolina border slightly northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with a Category 4 intensity of 130 mph.
Hurricane Wilma still holds the record as the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin.  In 24 hours Wilma went from a Category 1 storm on October 18 to a Category 5 storm with 185 MPH Maximum Sustained Winds.  She weakened to Category 4 and struck the Yucatan, then restrengthened and struck Cape Romano Florida as a Category 3 storm on October 24, 2005.
Hurricane Mitch became a Category 1 hurricane on October 24, 1998 and within 48 hours grew to Category 5 intensity, and though he weakened to Category 1 before making landfall, he became the second deadliest hurricane on record killing over 11,000, with nearly that number missing in Central America due to intense rainfall and mudslides.  He would eventually reach the United States making landfall near Naples Florida on November 5.
Beware of October hurricanes, for as Wilma and Mitch have demonstrated, they can experience explosive growth.
October Tropical Cyclone Breeding Grounds

This is the month for Alabama’s version of “Indian Summer’s” arrival.  
Technically speaking Indian Summer doesn’t occur until “Squaw Winter” or the first frost arrives, but exact date when Indian Summer arrives varies with latitude.  
We live in Alabama, and while the earliest frosts have been known to occur by October 17, they usually wait until November. So, we, in our milder climate call the first warm up after the first cool down “Indian Summer”.
The Yellow Giant Sulphur Butterflies are very noticeable as they continue to drift South-Southeast on their migration towards Florida.  They prefer red things & if you have red flowers they will zero in on them. 
The Monarchs also will be seen gliding by in their migration towards Central America.
Fall colors will become prominent & by late October & early November the leaves will be reaching their peak fall colors.
Looking towards the sky, Mercury is disappearing into the glow of sunrise, farther to the lower left of bright Venus and faint Mars every morning.
Venus shines at magnitude –3.9 as the brilliant “Morning Star” low due east in the dawn. Every day it’s sinking down lower toward Mars, and farther away from the star Regulus above it.Mars, at magnitude +1.8.0, is low in the dawn, 1/200th as bright as Venus. Use binoculars to look for it below or lower left of Venus. Their separation is only 3° on the September 30th. They’ll closely pass by each other on October 5th.Jupiter, magnitude –1.7 is disappearing into the sunset. Use binoculars and try to spot him just above the west-southwest horizon during bright twilight.Saturn, magnitude +0.5 in Ophiuchus to the right of Sagittarius, glows in the south-southwest at dusk. The star Antares twinkles 13° to Saturn’s lower right. Uranus shining at magnitude 5.7, in Pisces is well up in the east by mid to late evening. The blue-green planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun, when it reaches Opposition October 19. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view Uranus. However, due to its distance, it will only appear as a tiny blue-green dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.
Neptune shining at magnitude 7.8, in Aquarius is well up in the southeast by mid to late evening.
October’s Full Moon will occur October 5.  The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 18:40 UTC or 1:40 PM CDT. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Hunters Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt. This moon has also been known as the Travel Moon and the Blood Moon. 
The Draconid Meteor Shower will peak on October 8. This minor shower is produced by dust grains left behind by Comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was discovered in 1900. This shower, which runs from October 6 – 10, is unusual in that it is best observed in the early evening, instead of the early morning hours as with most other showers.
Unfortunately, the nearly full moon will block all but the brightest meteors this year. If you are extremely patient, you may be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be in the early evening from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
New Moon will occur October 19. The Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 19:12 UTC or 2:12 PM CDT. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
The Orionid Meteor Shower peaks on October 21 & 22. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak This shower, which runs from October 2 to November 7, is produced by the broad debris trail of Halley’s Comet. The crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
This is the time of year when the rich star clouds of the Milky Way in Cygnus crosses the zenith, looking like a ghostly band overhead in the hour after nightfall is complete. The Milky Way now rises straight up from the southwest horizon, passed overhead, and runs straight down to the northeast.  Later at midnight, Orion the Hunter and the stars of winter rise over the eastern horizon, reminding us to enjoy the mild weather while it is here, for this season, as all seasons, is but a fleeting moment in the never ending waltz of time.
3513 planets beyond our solar system have now been confirmed as of September 28, per NASA’s Exoplanet Archive

This month’s meeting will be on October 10 at 7PM at the National Weather Service Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport.
If for some reason you cannot attend the meeting in person, you can still participate via telephone.  The teleconference number is 1-877-951-0997 & and the participant code is 741083.Hope to see you there!Mark / WD4NYLEditorALERT Newsletter
Mark’s Weatherlynx Weather Resource Database

Hi everyone,

I hope this finds you well after last night’s windy stormy night.

I have been playing with a new toy – NOAA’s GOES 16 satellite. This satellite has the highest resolution I have seen, and has many modes and bandwidths to play with.

The site gives you access to GOES 16 which covers our half of the globe and Japan’s Himawari 8 satellite, which covers the other side of the globe.

If you are a weatherholic such as I am, I urge to give this site a try. It’s addictive!

Our next ALERT meeting will be Tuesday August 12 and I hope to see you there!




Did We Forget?

As I write this newsletter the recovery efforts continue in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. This storm is one of the most destructive storms we have ever seen, both due to the winds which, with the storm moving so very slowly, subjected the area to hour upon hour of hurricane force and greater winds and the unimaginable rain which the storm brought in from the Gulf.

One reoccurring question I see on social media is “Didn’t anyone learn anything from Katrina?”

The answer is of course “yes”.

Realistically speaking even the most prepared community on Earth cannot sustain this type of onslaught and not be expected to be overwhelmed. The thought that any man-made infrastructure should be able to withstand this level of devastation is pure fantasy. But, even with this, the response seems, from this distance at least, considering the utter chaos, a much more united response than was the case with Katrina. I will admit, the distance may be giving us a blurred vision of reality, but, considering the long duration of the event, which wasn’t a “hit one day, start digging out the next” event, it seems to be going as about well as one could be expected, considering that disasters are seldom well organized, nice, neat, reet and petite affairs. They are hellacious and ugly, as with the scenes from Texas we can clearly see.

The main question I see asked is “why didn’t they evacuate”? The fact is, with the exception of the usual boneheads who think they can ride the storm out, the coastal areas did for the most part evacuate. With the inland areas the situation becomes more complicated. Though Houston is 40 miles inland the storm surge caused Galveston Bay to swell the San Jacinto and other rivers of the area, then the endless rain and the massive run off set in. It is impossible to predict the effect of 4 feet of water falling from the sky, and the added water from the runoff of nearby areas. Neighborhoods that had never flooded in history, and so logically would not be expected to flood, suddenly were going under water. The authorities attempted to go door by door telling people to get out. Some only had 15 minutes lead time.

I think of my neighborhood. I am on the side of a small hill about a quarter mile from Shades Creek and 1000 feet from a small tributary named Griffin Creek. It has never flooded here, and realistically it should never flood. But, also realistically if I got 4 feet of rain, the run off from Mountain Brook swells Shades Creek far out of its banks, then the storm sewers become overwhelmed causing Green Springs Highway to become Green Springs River, then, I could be in actual flood danger, even though it never has flooded and probably never will. So evacuating due to flooding never would cross my mind. That is until the events of this week made me think about it.

One of the lessons we did learn from Katrina and her sisters is that there are things we can do to make things better and things that make things worse.

One problem we have seen, as with other disasters, is while most people did take the situation seriously, some did not. Some of that blame, in Mark’s opinion, lies squarely with the national news media.

The national news media tends to; either as an attention grabber or I would hope due to genuine concern, over embellishes threats and situations, which eventually cause people to start tuning them out, due to hearing the same dire reports over and over and over again.

For example a major network regularly comes on with the headlines “Severe storms tear through the heartland, 54 million people lay in the danger zone”.

Well, theoretically that is correct, since the entire storm system, consisting of the low pressure system and the associated frontal system, may stretch north to south from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and will as a whole move eastward over an area which has a population of 54 million.

But, 54 million people will not receive severe thunderstorms; some might, some may get “regular” thunderstorms, some just rain, some may get nothing but blue skies. The unlucky hundred or in severe instances, thousand that may suffer damage is a very small fraction, in the context of 54 million people. For the other 53, 999,000 who receive nothing remarkable it can lead to people developing an attitude of “oh, brother, here they go again….lets cry wolf to milk the ratings a few more times how about it” or “man St. Louis always gets clobbered, doesn’t it? Wonder why? We seem to be protected” This develops an attitude of its “the other guy’s problem” which further dulls people’s interest and reactions.

Another example occurred a couple of years ago when a tropical system struck the Carolinas. News networks dispatched reporters all along the coast. “Evacuations are ordered as the ‘monster storm’ nears the coast.” Well, this “monster storm” was barely a tropical storm. I remarked at that time that using such hyperbole would just serve to dull people’s reactions, and that we would pay the price for it someday when a true “monster storm” such as the next Katrina arrived, and that such terms and descriptions should be reserved for storms that qualified for the title.

Constantly hearing that every storm is a “monster storm” with “200 million in the storm’s path”, would put me to sleep also.

It is for this reason, and the tendency of the national news media in some cases to major in minor issues, while ignoring genuine problems that desperately need attention, that I take national news sources, whatever their bend or trend, with a major grain of salt.

Now if the NWS says “pay attention”, I pay attention. Likewise I trust our local broadcast meteorologists. If James Spann, J.P. Dice or Mark Prater says “something’s brewing”, I keep my already peeled weather eye, peeled even more.

Another problem which contributes to the chaos the fact that, human beings tend to be “reactive” rather than “proactive” creatures. We are very good to prepare for disasters AFTER the disaster has struck. After a Katrina or a major tornado outbreak we learn where and what our vulnerabilities are, begin corrective actions and begin preparing for the next event, by preparing kits, supplies, flooding emergency preparedness classes and such.

But, then as time passes and nothing else major happens, both memories and interest begin to fade.

For those who prepare it’s a three part problem.

The first problem is getting people to make any preparations at all. Some have a fatalistic “what’s the use? I’m gonna die anyway” attitude. Some think its all foolishness, pure and simple – period. Some assume the government or “that crazy old ‘prepper’ dude building that ark up the street will take care of me.” Many people read about preparing, say “that’s a great idea!” and then do nothing. Some assume they can’t afford to make any preparations, because it looks overwhelming and expensive.

The first three groups have willingly doomed themselves already, whether they know it or not. For the other two there is still hope.

For those who have read, gotten motivated, but, never actually began making emergency plans, there is no better time to start than right now, while the sun is shining. The first step is the hardest. So just go buy a candle and a Bic lighter, and it will automatically just keep going on from there.

For the latter group, I will say the trick to preparing affordably is to start slowly. Think “Dollar Tree is my friend.” You don’t have to spend a ton, to get a ton, so to speak. For instance, if you eat a can of beans, buy two or three cans to replace it. This gradually builds your pantry like they did in the “old days”.

My Mom & Dad lived through the Great Depression, when no one could afford anything, since no one was working and World War 2 where you couldn’t buy most anything as things were rationed or unavailable, the sources being in enemy hands. They learned how to value, save and prepare and always had food in the pantry when I was a kid, and I learned from their example.

I’ll throw this in that people often joke that the generation that lived through the Great Depression and World War 2 are “hoarders”. To me, if this is done in a controlled manner that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I know that they valued things more and took better care of their things much better than my generation does. This also is a good thing, a trait to be emulated and a much better approach to life than the “tear it up & throw it away” mentality of today.

Also I don’t call preparing “hoarding”, I call it “the art of useful accumulation”.

If it is “hoarding” the most important commodity you can hoard is KNOWLEDGE. For without it, it doesn’t matter how many kits and supplies you have, you are helpless, because you don’t know what to do with the resources you have gathered, or how to improvise when things don’t exactly work as they should, if at all.

Items to consider when preparing for an emergency are emergency shelter options, such as tarps or tents and blankets to protect you from the elements. Water storage, water procurement and purification, non-perishable food, candles, lighters, matches and batteries, extra fuel for a portable stoves, and the stoves themselves, flashlights, lanterns and the kerosene for them, sanitation and first aid supplies, medicine, various tools for emergency repairs, including hammers, axes, saws, wrenches, nails, duct tape and cordage. Emergency cash in small bills should be kept, but nothing larger than $20s. Many Katrina evacuees had cash, but, it was all in $100 bills, and businesses soon could not make change, as they ran out of the smaller bills. Supplies for kids, including food, clothing and things to keep them occupied. Those with special needs and pets should be considered also.

I know this may sound like a lot, but, as I say, you start small and build slowly. It makes it manageable, affordable and prevents you from ending up either in the poor house or divorce court.

There are many excellent books available on the subject such as Cody Lundin’s books on survival and preparedness: “98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive“ and “When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes”. Les Stroud’s Book “Survive!” and John “Lofty” Wiseman’s SAS Survival Manual, which is the most comprehensive book I’ve seen.

FEMA recommends a three-day supply of food and water – one gallon per person per day and food that will not spoil. To which I will harp, preferably not bread and milk which has a short shelf life. Why not choose cans of chili, stew, soup and other nutritious food & invest in an inexpensive portable stove for cooking them? Choose food you are used to eating. The familiarity is comforting and your tummy will appreciate it also.
One change of clothing and footwear per person
One blanket or sleeping bag per person
A first aid kit that includes your family’s prescription medications.
Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlights and plenty of extra batteries.
An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash in small bills or traveler’s checks.
Sanitation supplies.
Special items for infants, the elderly, disabled family members & pets.
An extra pair of glasses.
Keep important family documents in a waterproof container.

I will add this, along with FEMA; the Red Cross, NOAA and emergency organizations in other countries also stress the 72 hour kit approach. But, as Katrina, Sandy, Harvey and major tornadoes have shown, in a major disaster 72 hours isn’t a drop in the bucket. The old Civil Defense fallout shelter recommendation of 2 weeks supplies seems more realistic. I would say at least a month of supplies is neither an unreasonable nor an unaffordable amount.

The second and third problems that those who do prepare run into, but which is never discussed is the false sense of security & the “what now” feeling that can creep in.

As to the first problem, the attitude is “all right! I’ve got my kit! All my bases are covered!” and then you move on to other things. Your kit is relegated to the closet, then to the garage, and then to the back of the garage, where it is buried behind the remains of that 57 Chevy you have been rebuilding for the last 29 years and then totally forgotten. Meanwhile the food and medicines reach and far exceed their expiration dates, the batteries corrode into bluish green powdery goo and mice eat a hole in the side of the kit making a cozy apartment in the backpack for themselves and the many generations that follow.

Then suddenly you need the kit, because “it” has finally happened. But, you can’t remember where you put the darned thing. Then finally remembering where, you sprout a hernia trying to get to it, an engine block being in the way, only to have the chewed up contents dump out of the rotted bottom of the pack all over creation. Then you break a toe by kicking the Chevy’s transmission, causing you to let loose a variety of colorful words that your six year old who is watching in turn will use with his teacher on Monday.

That’s why it is a good idea to keep the kit where you can reach it and check it regularly for expired contents, corroded batteries, holes, leaks, dust, must, busts, rust, crusts, crud, rot, roaches, mice, lice and mildew. The fun thing is that you will run into items you forgot you even had and which you were about to order on Amazon. So it’s like having a mini Christmas.

The third problem, the “what now” mindset occurs because you have done all the proper things. Everything is set and you are good to go. You are ready for whatever “Big One” comes your way. You don’t want the “Big One” to come, since after all you aren’t really THAT nutty, but you can’t really use any of the garbage you’ve collected either. So you sit waiting, waiting and waiting some more. You have basically become the curator of your own private preparedness museum.

That’s why I try to make everything I get multipurpose, where I can use it for camping and cookouts, for instance. It lets you practice, have some fun and keeps you a little more balanced mentally, for there are some nuts out there. Also, I keep studying the subject, and participate in mostly non-nutty online groups and forums, which helps keep the subject fresh on my mind.


There are other factors that work against personal and community preparedness. In time, after no further disasters have come near, communities start cutting corners and funding, people move on to other things and new people come on the scene who don’t know the history of the area’s disasters, the lessons learned or the accuracy or inaccuracy of the press/history accounts.

For press reports tend to evolve over time with them spanning the spectrum from the initial reports of survivors being drugged out hooligans in wild free for all’s over looted sneakers to the reports ten years later that cheerfully state that everywhere people were hugging, kissing and joyously singing Kumbayah as they passed out daisies and lotus blossoms, as love was in the air.

This leads to the illusion that “It couldn’t have been as bad the old folk say”, when in fact it was, if not worse.

All these things combine to create a scenario where we basically become doomed to repeat the same cycle of mistakes over and over again.

As an attempt to help break the cycle I will share these “Lessons Learned From Katrina & Friends”.

1. Don’t live in a state of denial. It COULD happen to you, and the “it” can range from a natural or manmade disaster, to you being in a wreck or having a major medical issue. The latter two may never make the news, but, on a personal level they are just as disastrous as any natural disaster.

2. Study and learn. Your supplies may float away, but, your knowledge won’t.

3. Have an emergency plan & emergency supplies. Keep both current. Supplies deteriorate and routes and relationships can change with time. Folk you once could depend on to help you in a time of need and could flee to may change; they becoming, as it were, strangers or they may pass away.

4. Some disasters come with little or no warning. Some are warned well in advance. Have reliable news/alert sources. Have a NOAA weather radio. If you have a smartphone, install apps from local and national media sources. Keep your eyes open and your ears perked.

5. Test equipment, for instance, for instance, emergency crank radios well before an emergency to see how they work, IF they work and how well you can actually depend on them. It is better to find out that they are junk now, than in the middle of a debris field.

6. Keep your cars tank no less than ¾ full. If you have to evacuate you may not be able to tank up, due either to the gas stations being inoperable, or you being in a literal “run for your life” scenario.

7. Know your escape routes from buildings and locations, and have alternate routes both to and from areas should the primary routes fail.

8. Know your local hazards and assets. I am vulnerable to tornadoes, man-made accidents and “incidents”, chemical spills and a low end earthquake danger. What are your dangers? What are your local assets, such as fire stations, hospitals, stores, and possible alternative water sources?

9. Prescriptions, debit cards and checks from local “Mom & Pop” pharmacies and banks could not be honored or verified after Katrina as the businesses were under water or destroyed. The major “Big Name” facilities however had much fewer issues. Cash in small bills was universally accepted.

These are just a few of the lessons learned. But, the most important lesson of all is to maintain a state of readiness so if the day comes that the authorities knock on your door at 2AM telling you to evacuate, you can do so rapidly.

And, do what they say. For your life may depend on it.




Mark’s Almanac

September is the ninth month of the year and the seventh month of the Roman calendar, which is where the month gets its name.

Temperatures are still hot at the beginning of the month, but, by months end, fall will definitely be felt.

Noticeable in September will be the thickening of the cat’s fur, as she begins growing her winter coat & the drift of Yellow Giant Sulphur Butterflies as they migrate towards Florida.

Weather starts shifting from the summer to autumn pattern and then back again. Storm activity resembles the August pattern, but the Bermuda High starts shifting southward and begins weakening, which weakens the blocking effect that has hampered fronts attempting to invade from the northwest.

September is the peak of the hurricane season, the actual peak being on September 10. This peak coincides with the time of “syzygy”, when the combination of the solar and lunar gravity and autumnal equinox combine to provide the highest astronomical tides of the year. Add a hurricane’s storm surge on top of this and you can have incredibly destructive flooding.

From 1851 – 2015 there have been 578 Tropical Storms and 398 hurricanes, 107 of which made landfall in the United States.

Some notable September hurricanes are:

The Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which was a Category 4 Storm whose storm surge overwhelmed Galveston Island, killing 8000 people, and is still the deadliest weather disaster in US history.

The Labor Day Hurricane of 1936, the most intense storm to strike the US, was a Category 5 storm which moved through the Florida Keys and along West Florida, literally sandblasting people to death.

And in my lifetime, Camille, a category 5 storm, and the second most intense storm to hit the US, which devastated Mississippi and Louisiana in 1969.

Andrew was a category 5 storm which devastated South Florida in 1992. The ruins of buildings destroyed are still visible today.

Opal, which weakened to a category 3 storm just before striking near Pensacola and then moving into and maintaining hurricane strength deep into Alabama as it crossed the length of the state in in 1995.

Ivan, the category 3 storm which struck Alabama & Florida in 2004, caused tremendous damage to Gulf Shores and extensive damage to the state’s electrical grid. At the height of the outages, Alabama Power reported 489,000 subscribers had lost electrical power—roughly half of its subscriber base.

Katrina, which weakened from a category 5 storm to a category 3 storm at landfall near Buras Louisiana in 2005. This storm caused catastrophic damage to Louisiana and Mississippi, parts of which are still being rebuilt to this day.

Rita, a category 3 storm which struck the Texas – Louisiana border in 2005, and, despite the distance, dropped 22 tornadoes over Western Alabama.

Wilma, the strongest Atlantic Basin hurricane with 185 MPH winds, weakened slightly before hitting the Yucatan Peninsula, and then strengthening to a category 3 storm before striking near Cape Romano Florida in 2005. Wilma would be the last major hurricane to strike the US until Harvey 12 years later.



September Tropical Cyclone Breeding Grounds

Looking skyward, at the beginning of the month Mercury is lost deep in the sunrise. As the month progresses he will rise higher and higher in the morning sky until September 12, when he will reach “Greatest Western Elongation” or his highest point above the Eastern horizon, 17.9 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

Venus shines brightly at magnitude –3.9 in the east before and during dawn. Look for the stars Castor and Pollux an Gemini The Twins, much fainter, above it. Look for Procyon, in the Little Dog, to its right. The triangle that Venus makes with Pollux and Procyon changes each morning.

Mars shines faintly at magnitude +1.8 very deep in the sunrise.

Jupiter shines brightly at magnitude –1.7, in Virgo, very low in the west-southwest during evening twilight. The fainter star Spica in Virgo glitters at magnitude +1.0 just 4° lower left of Jupiter.

Saturn, drifting in the legs of Ophiuchus, glows steadily in the south-southwest at magnitude +0.4 at nightfall. The fiery star Antares, less bright, twinkles 12° to Saturn’s lower right in Scorpius, the Scorpion.

Uranus shining at a borderline naked eye visibility of magnitude 5.7, in Pisces, is well up in the east by late evening.

Neptune shines faintly at magnitude 7.8, in Aquarius well up in the southeast, by late evening. On September 5 Neptune will be at “Opposition” or at its closest approach to Earth. Being fully illuminated by the Sun it will be brighter than any other time of the year. However, due to its extreme distance the giant blue planet will appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.

September’s Full Moon will occur September 6 at 2:03 AM CDT. This month’s moon is “Full Corn Moon” in Native American folklore because corn is harvested this time of year.

This year it is also “Harvest Moon”. Harvest moon get its name because the moon is larger and seems to rise at almost the same time every night, which allowed harvesting to continue on into the night.

Most believe that Harvest Moon is always in September; however this isn’t always the case. Harvest Moon is actually the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox, and so occasionally it can occur with October “Hunters Moon”..

New Moon occurs September 20 at 12:30 AM CDT when the Moon will on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

Fall begins at Autumnal Equinox on September 22 at 3:02 PM CDT, when the Sun crosses directly over the equator and night and day is approximately the same length throughout the world. For the Southern Hemisphere it is Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring.

One term that occasionally pops up is “equinoctial storms”. Which are severe storms in North America and the UK that supposedly accompany the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. Where this belief originated is obscure. Some say perhaps from the 1700’s when sailors were greeted by West Indies hurricanes, or due to the coincidence of the first fall severe storms sometimes coming in the latter half of September. At any rate, statistics show no evidence to support the belief.

On this date, if there is sufficient solar activity, and you are away from city lights, the aurora may possibly be seen, as the Equinox dates are the two most favored times of the year for auroral sightings.

High in the Southern night sky an asterism or a group of stars appearing clustered together, but not actually gravitationally bound will be seen that resembles a teapot. This is the Teapot of Sagittarius.

To the naked eye, the Teapot is roughly the size of your fist at arm’s length. Above the spout of the Teapot lies a band of light, the Large Sagittarius Star Cloud. A pair of binoculars will reveal a sea of stars and faint grayish patches, the largest of which is the Lagoon Nebula. When you look upon these nebulae you are seeing stars in the process of being born.

The spout, which is tilting and pouring to the right, also points towards the galactic center of the Milky Way, located just beyond the Large Sagittarius Star cloud, but largely hidden by the dust clouds, which lie along the plane of the Sagittarius arm of the galaxy.

3503 planets beyond our solar system have now been confirmed as of August 24, per NASA’s Exoplanet Archive

Oh…incidentally, according to the ASON – the American Society Of Nutcases, the world is supposed to end either on September 23, or on that date the mythical giant planet Nibiru is supposed to be spotted, which will then crash into Earth in October, spoiling all of our Fall fun.

Remember when the loonies start flooding social media with this that you heard it first here.

See you in October – I think.




This month’s meeting will be on September 12 at 7PM at the National Weather Service Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport.

If for some reason you cannot attend the meeting in person, you can still participate via telephone. The teleconference number is 1-877-951-0997 & and the participant code is 741083.
Hope to see you there!
Mark / WD4NYL
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