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Hi Everyone,

I hope this finds you doing well & that you have been enjoying these spring days.

Our May 9 ALERT meeting will feature our annual elections.

If you are a paid up Operational or Supporting Member, which is a member interested in Amateur Radio, Skywarn or Emergency Communications, but doesn’t have a ham license (yet), you may vote in the 2017 – 2018 ALERT leadership elections.

The officers will assume their positions at the July meeting.

July is also when ALERT dues are due. Remember, if you wish to respond to ALERT callouts or serve as an officer you MUST be current with your dues.

I hope to see you there!


For Your Viewing Pleasure – Part 1
(Courtesy Of ABC 33/40)

Recently ABC 33/40 presented its one day weather seminar – Storm Alert XTREME. These presentations are one of the best outreach tools for reaching the general public with severe weather information and training, since as everyone knows that “Spann’s The Man”, and that’s
a powerful incentive to attend.

In case you, as I did, happened to miss the event, we are in luck as ABC 33/40 has posted videos of the event on YouTube.

The following are the videos of both the 2016 & 2017 events. They are divided into segments and I included the runtime of each, so you know how manage your viewing time, as the presentations are around four hours long.

ABC 33/40 Storm Spotter Xtreme – April 9, 2016
Part 1 – 1:56:52
Part 2 – 0:30:01
Part 3 – 1:44:52

ABC 33/40 Storm Spotter Xtreme – April 8, 2017
Part 1 – 2:56:56
Part 2 – 0:56:57

Another set of videos I am including are ABC 33/40’s coverage of the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak, which hit in two major waves.

The first video is wall to wall coverage as the morning wave of storms moved through.

ABC 33/40 Coverage of the April 27, 2011 Outbreak (3:30am-9:00am)

The second wave of afternoon storms are covered first by four sets of videos, the first three running around 15 minutes each covering from roughly 2:00 PM to 2:45 PM.

ABC 33/40 Coverage of the April 27, 2011 Outbreak (2:00 to 2:15 pm)

ABC 33/40 Coverage of the April 27, 2011 Outbreak (2:15 to 2:30 pm)

ABC 33/40 Coverage of the April 27, 2011 Outbreak (2:30 to 2:45 pm)

*Note that there is an overlap between this source and the next video posted by ABC 33/40, which picks up continuous wall to wall coverage.

ABC 33/40 Coverage of the April 27, 2011 Outbreak (2:45 to 11:30 pm)

These videos are important both from a historical perspective and in the case of the Jefferson County coverage, as a reminder that portions of Jefferson County suffered extreme damage also.

Last year a major network carried a documentary covering the April 27th tornado outbreak. It covered Hackleberg, Phil Campbell and extensively covered the devastation and recovery in Tuscaloosa. I waited anxiously to see their coverage of the damage cause by the same tornado in Jefferson County, but, instead of mentioning anything at all, credits rolled and a sitcom came on instead.

This is not unusual. In most coverage of the April 27th outbreak, Jefferson County is usually only briefly mentioned, if it is mentioned at all.

While I don’t want to sound like I’m in any way downplaying Tuscaloosa’s tragedy, which I most assuredly am not, for they suffered horrific loses both in people and property, it must be remembered that 21 souls were taken in Jefferson County by the same tornado, now evolved from a strangely photogenic storm into a grotesquely unphotogenic 1.5 mile wide mass of destruction, as Concord, parts of Pleasant Grove, McDonald’s Chapel, Pratt City and Smithfield were flattened or swept away. These should not be forgotten.

The NWS in its final storm summary describes the scenario as follows:

“The tornado crossed CR 99 and moved into western Jefferson County, 4 miles north of Abernant.

In the Concord area, the tornado became violent once again with total destruction noted to a few small retail shops along County Road 46. Only piles of debris were left on the foundation. In addition, several cinder block homes were completely destroyed with debris swept away (EF-4). Numerous other homes in the area were destroyed with only a few interior walls left standing.

The tornado continued northeastward out of the Concord area and into the Pleasant Grove community. EF-4 damage was prevalent here, with slabs wiped clean, though the debris from each home had not been removed by the winds. The majority of it remained within a couple of yards of the home. It was here in Pleasant Grove where evidence of vehicles being moved by the winds become obvious, though most were only tossed 10 to 15 yards if they were picked up at all. Additionally, wind rowing of debris was evident throughout the Pleasant Grove community which is characteristic of a storm of this magnitude.

The tornado quickly moved out of the Pleasant Grove area and into the McDonald Chapel community. It was here in McDonald Chapel where evidence of a slight weakening of the tornado became clear. No vehicles were tossed, only pushed slightly from their original position. Many homes in this area were constructed by the method of pier and beam foundation, which led to some of the major destruction, as this construction will not withstand winds of this magnitude. A four-sided brick home in the same area only lost a roof and no exterior walls, which is indicative of EF-2 damage. At least one death occurred here.

After the tornado moved through the McDonald Chapel area, it moved into the area of Smithfield Estates, with significant home damage along Cherry Avenue between Daniel Payne Drive and Veterans Memorial Drive. Numerous homes sustained damage in this area, and a 2-story apartment complex had a large portion of its roof lifted and removed. The Bethel Baptist Church also sustained significant damage to its roof, though the main structure of the building was still intact. The damage sustained in this area is consistent with EF-2 wind damage. Although not a main damage indicator, there was also evidence of vehicles being moved, but only a couple of feet.

By the time the tornado reached Interstate 65, it was evident that the storm was losing its energy. The damage in the Fultondale area included folded highway light poles along the interstate, and roof damage to the Days Inn on U.S. Highway 31. To the east of US-31, the damage quickly diminished from EF-2 intensity to EF-1 and EF-0. The tornado lifted just to the west of Alabama Highway 79, about 2 miles north of the city of Tarrant, though the storm was not done. The storm did regenerate itself and eventually put down the EF-4 tornado in the Ohatchee area.”

Of the 64 people killed by this one massive storm, the 21 from Jefferson County, caused Jefferson County to be ranked fifth in the number people killed that stormy day. Tuscaloosa County was first having lost 43, then Dekalb County 35, Franklin County 26 and Marion County 25.

I watched this storm from Red Mountain knowing I was watching people die.

Let us never forget them.

I know I never will.


Mark’s Almanac

May is the fifth month & third month of the Roman calendar. May is named for the Greek goddess Maia, who was identified with, Bona Dea, the Goddess of Fertility, who was celebrated in May.

Since ancient times the first day of the month, “May Day” has been a time of celebration. In Rome it honored Flora, the goddess of flowers.

On May the fifth Mexican’s celebrate Cinco De Mayo, the celebration Mexico’s 1862 victory over Napoleon III’s forces at Puebla. This is not, as many assume, Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually on September 16.

Rainfall decreases in May as the Azores-Bermuda High strengthens, expands Westward over the Southeastern US & begins rerouting storm systems northward.

The door opens to the Gulf of Mexico & Gulf moisture spreads northward over the continent.

The center of maximum tornadic activity also shifts northward over the Nation’s Heartland. May is the peak tornado month, with a 42% increase over April’s amount.

Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15, and although the North Atlantic hurricane season has not arrived, occasionally a tropical system will form in the Gulf of Mexico. In 110 years there have been 14 named storms.

Looking towards the sky, Mercury, at the beginning of the month is lost in the glare of the Sun, but, as the month progresses he reemerges in the morning sky and by May 17 will reach his highest point in the sky or “Greatest Western Elongation” of 25.8 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

Brilliant Venus, magnitude -4.7 shines low in the east as dawn brightens. In a telescope it’s a crescent, thickening a little every morning. She is climbing in altitude and will read her highest point in the morning sky or “Greatest Western Elongation” on June 3, when she will be 45.9 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Venus since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the bright planet in the eastern sky before sunrise.

Mars, magnitude +1.6 in Taurus glows in the west in late twilight.

Jupiter, shining very brightly at magnitude -2.4 in Virgo, is in the southeast at nightfall. It’s highest in the south by 11 or midnight daylight saving time. The star Spica, just a trace bluer, hangs 9° lower left of it, and 250 light years more distant.

Saturn, magnitude +0.3 in Sagittarius rises around 11 PM or midnight and glows highest in the south before dawn, upper right of the Sagittarius Teapot. 470 light years beyond, super red giant Antares (magnitude +1.0) twinkles 18° to Saturn’s right in the early-morning hours.

This region of the sky has always been one of my favorite places to explore with binoculars, as you are looking into Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way and toward the center of the galaxy. Give me a dark sky away from the city lights, a pair of binoculars, and I will easily become lost for hours draped on a car hood drifting among the star clouds and nebulae of Sagittarius. It’s almost like really being “up there”.

Uranus is hidden in the glare of the Sun.

Neptune is hidden the glow of dawn.

The Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower, an above average shower, peaks May 6 & 7. It is capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak, but, most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour, which is still a decent shower. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, due to return in a mere 44 years in the summer of 2061. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. The waxing gibbous moon will block out many of the fainter meteors this year. But if you are patient, you should be able to catch quite a few of the brighter ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Full Moon will occur May 10th at 7:42 AM CDT. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. May’s Moon is “Flower Moon” in Native American folklore, because of the abundance of spring flowers. It has also been called “Corn Planting Moon” & “Milk Moon”.

New Moon will occur May 25 at 2:45 PM CDT. The Moon will 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 deep sky objects such as galaxies and star clusters, as there will be no moonlight to wash out the evening sky.

3475 planets beyond our solar system have now been confirmed as of April 13, per NASA’s Exoplanet Archive

Last but, not least, World Naked Gardening Day will occur May 7.

Make sure to wear sunscreen, as some places are best not sunburned.


This month’s meeting will be on May 9 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

Mark’s Weatherlynx
Weather Resource Database

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