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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  The Fourth Amendment of the ALERT Constitution and Bylaws is hereby repealed.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

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