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Hi Everyone,

The Birmingham Hamfest is at the end of this week, March 3 & 4 at the Zamora Shrine Temple.

This will be a Friday & Saturday affair, Friday 4 – 7 PM and Saturday 8:30 AM to 4 PM.

ALERT will have a table Saturday and an ALERT forum 12 – 1 PM Saturday in the Knights Of Mecca Room.

In accordance with the ALERT Bylaws, this month’s ALERT meeting on March 14th will feature the selection of the two person Nominating Committee for the upcoming elections in May.

Please plan on attending this meeting & don’t be shy about volunteering to serve on the Committee or to make yourself available for a leadership role. We need some of our newer members to step up and become active members of ALERT’s leadership. All it takes is a willing heart and once elected a commitment to faithfully fulfill your duties of office to the best of your abilities.

We need you to be actively involved in ALERT’s leadership and to help us build a strong ALERT organization for the future.

Your time has arrived.

Your ALERT needs you.


Water Purification Changes With New Version Clorox
Water contamination or shortages can occur for many reasons, and is not as uncommon as you may think. The causes for these shortages can range from natural & man-made disasters, industrial accidents to the more mundane occurrence of a guy having a bad day with a backhoe.
Many guides recommend using chlorine bleach for water purification, which is indeed one of the best methods available. However many of these guides were written before Clorox began offering the new Concentrated version of Clorox, and this new version requires a different mixture or amount needed for water purification.
The following, courtesy of Clorox®, details how to use both Clorox Regular-Bleach and New Concentrated Clorox Regular-Bleach for emergency disinfection of drinking water.
Prior to addition of the bleach, it’s important to remove all suspended material from collected water by letting it settle to the bottom or by filtration. This means that after you collect some water that hasn’t been treated, you need to let it sit long enough to let any debris settle to the bottom of the container.
Next, decant the clarified contaminated water into a clean container, then add the bleach. Use the table below to determine how much bleach to add—it depends on how much water you are treating.
Allow the treated water to stand for 30 minutes. Properly treated water should have a slight chlorine odor.
If there’s no chlorine odor, then you need to repeat the treatment. Just add the same amount of bleach, and wait for another 15 minutes. Check again for the chlorine odor before drinking the water.
Amount of Clear Water Amount of Clorox® Regular-Bleach Amount of New Concentrated Clorox® Regular-Bleach
1 quart 2 drops 2 drops
1 gallon 8 drops 6 drops
2 gallons 16 drops 12 drops, or 1/8 teaspoon
5 gallons 40 drops 30 drops
Here are some other important things to remember.
ONLY use Clorox® Regular-Bleach or new Concentrated® Clorox Regular-Bleach. DO NOT use the Scented bleaches, High Efficiency bleach Splash-Less bleach, Ultimate Care bleach, or the Bleach Pen.
Use bleach that was purchased in the last 4 months.
If the water you want to treat is cloudy and you can’t decant or filter it, add twice the amount of bleach recommended above.
Check with your water service provider to confirm that your tap water is safe to drink.
If you stocked up on bottled water, save the empty bottles!! You can use some of them to collect untreated water, and others to store the water you treat.
More information on water purification during emergencies may be seen on my article “The 5 Main Ways To Push Up Daisies In A Disaster Part 3” which was featured in the April 2013 Newsletter.

This was part of a multipart series, basically a mini survival guide which I ran from March to June 2013, of which, I’ve toyed with the idea of updating and rerunning. IF there is interest

Mark’s Almanac

Originally called Martius, March is the third month & first month of the Roman calendar. March is named for Mars, the god of war, and was the start of the military campaign season.

The beginning of “Meteorological Spring”, which is based on changes in temperature and precipitation, not the solar angle, is March 1

March is a wet month. Most floods occur in March and rainfall averages around 6 inches.
Tornadic activity sharply increases in March with there being an increase of 2.2 times the number of tornadoes over the February amount. The focal point for this tornadic activity is the Gulf States.

March is the hail maximum for the Deep South. This is due both to the number of thunderstorms & due to the freezing level still being near the surface. This allows hail to form at lower altitudes and reach the ground intact, as opposed to summer months, when the freezing level is higher and near surface level temperatures are higher melting the hail into liquid before impact.

Killing frosts are gone and the last average frost is on March 16.

March is a snow month for Alabama & there is a 45% chance of snow up to one inch, and an 8% chance of one inch or more.

The good news is that there is hope on the horizon as Spring will arrive at Vernal Equinox on March 20 at 10:29 UTC or 5:29 A.M. CDT.

The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of fall, or Autumnal Equinox, in the Southern Hemisphere.

Remember to get the eggs out, as it is said that you can stand eggs on their ends at the hour of equinox.

Daylight Savings Time begins at 2 AM on March 12. So remember to “spring forward” one hour. This, of course means I will lose one hour of “beauty sleep”, which is something I desperately need.

Saint Patrick’s Day is March 17, and you better participate by wearing a Touch O’ The Green or you will be plagued by leprechauns and gnomes. Not a pleasant experience, I can assure you.

Looking towards the sky, Mercury, is hidden deep in the glare of sunrise. He will move behind the Sun and then reemerge into the western sky and by the end of the month he will reach his highest point in the sky, or “Greatest Eastern Elongation” on April 1. At that time the planet will be 19 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.

Brilliant Venus, magnitude -4.8 in Capricorn, is near peak brightness, the southwest during and long after twilight.

In a telescope Venus is a crescent, thinning in shape, but, growing larger in the telescope week by week. It’s now about 25% sunlit. For the rest of the winter, as Venus swings toward us, it will continue to expand as its phase wanes down to a super-thin crescent.

Venus in a telescope is least glary when viewed in bright twilight. So get your scope on it as soon as you can see it naked-eye, even before sunset.

Mars, magnitude +1.2 in Aquarius, glowing in the south-southwest at dusk, is the faint reddish “star” upper left of brilliant Venus, but, only 0.4% as bright.

Jupiter, magnitude -2.3 in Virgo, rises around 9 or 10 PM and glares highest in the south in the hours before dawn. The star Spica dangles not quite 4° lower right of it after they rise, more directly below it in the early-morning hours, and lower left of it in early dawn as shown above.

Jupiter is creamy white, while, Spica is an icier shade of white with a trace of blue, once it’s fairly high in the sky.

Spica will be twinkling, while Jupiter will not.

Saturn, magnitude +0.5 on the Ophiucus-Sagittarius border rises in the early morning hours and glows in the southeast before and during dawn.

Uranus, shining at a borderline naked eye brightness of +5.9 in Pisces, is still in view in the southwest right after dark, in the background of Mars. The two planets will pass 0.6° from each other on the evening of February 26th.

Neptune is lost in the glow of sunset.

Full Moon will occur on March 12 at 14:54 UTC or 8:54 AM CST. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes “Worm Moon”. So called because the rains disturb the earthworms & they are seen wiggling around after the rains.

They are edible by the way, but I think I’ll let you have my share. Incidentally slugs are edible also. Just think of them as snails without the shell

New Moon will occur March 28 at 2:58 UTC or 8:58 March 27 PM CDT. 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 is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

Celestial carnivores are emerging from hibernation. After dinnertime at this time of year, five carnivore constellations are rising upright in a ragged row from the northeast to south. They’re all seen in profile with their noses pointed up and their feet (if any) to the right. These are The Great Bear, Ursa Major in the northeast, with the Big Dipper as its brightest part, Leo the Lion in the east, Hydra the Sea Serpent in the southeast, The Lesser Dog, Canis Minor higher in the south-southeast, and The Greater Dog, bright Canis Major in the south.

Sirius, shining at magnitude −1.46, the brightest night time star, blazes high in the south on the meridian, in Canis Major by about 8 or 9 p.m. Using binoculars, you will find a fuzzy spot 4° south of Sirius, directly below it when directly South. Four degrees is somewhat less than the width of a typical binocular’s field of view.

That dim little patch of gray haze is open star cluster Messier 41, a small gravitationally bound group of 100 stars about 2,200 light-years away, and moving away from us at 869 miles per second. Sirius, by comparison, is only 8.6 light-years away.

Canopus, the second-brightest star after Sirius, lies 36° almost due south of Sirius. That’s far enough south that it never appears above the horizon if you are above latitude 37° N, such as southern Virginia, southern Missouri and central California. Luckily we lie south of that latitude, with our horizon lying, in the case of Central Alabama, around latitude 33°. So give Canopus, which crosses low above the horizon, due south just 21 minutes before Sirius does, a peak.

3449 planets beyond our solar system have now been confirmed as of February 9, per NASA’s Exoplanet Archive


The Birmingham Hamfest is here! March 3 & 4.
As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, this it will be a Friday & Saturday affair; instead of the Saturday & Sunday dates of years past.

This month’s meeting will be on March 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 / WD4NYL
ALERT Newsletter

ALERT / National Weather Service Birmingham Coverage Area
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