Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A few thoughts about John Owens

First of all, dedicated readers, thank you for supporting this blog. I have a great time producing it, and hopefully you're getting something from it too. NO, it's not ending, but it is moving to http://cordillerablogs.com/mmadson, NewsFirst 5's corporate Website, so please follow me over.

That being said, another television station recently announced that one of their longtime sports anchors, John Owens, would be ending his association with them in December.

I worked with John for almost two decades, and as this chapter in his broadcast life comes to an end, there are a few things I'd like "on the record"

1) John is one of the kindest, most even-tempered human beings who has ever been on the planet. He made me feel like a member of his family from the moment I walked through the door of that station, and continued to do so as the years went by.
2) John lives and loves sports, with a background stretching back to his own high school basketball, extending through interviews with some of the greats (Muhammed Ali comes to mind) to locker room interviews with some of your favorite Colorado teams. He's even been known to take a portable TV when he and his wife go shopping so he can keep up on the games while she shops.
3) His on-air work will always be part of the broadcasting record of southern Colorado. He's been with us through it all.
4) For some, this will be even more important. He's a good dad and husband. You have to be to raise a daughter who becomes a PhD.

So John will be leaving the place where we've gotten used to seeing him for all of these years, but it doesn't mean...
a) He's getting ready to die
b) We won't see him somewhere else sometime

If we see him doing what he loves to do somewhere else, HOORAY!
If not, then hopefully it's because he's using the time to do more of what he likes to do.

In the final analysis, "You did a GREAT job, Big Daddy"!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why are nights so much colder in Pueblo?

If you're a weather watcher (and you should be, because as Ben Franklin said, "some are weatherwise, some are otherwise"), you've probably noticed that often the overnight lows in Pueblo are colder than the readings from Colorado Springs.

At first glance, it doesn't seem logical, because Pueblo is further south and lower in elevation, and those are both factors that should keep it warmer.....but....the big difference is the Arkansas River.

It's a perfect channel for cold air, either from the higher elevations, or from the eastern Plains to find its way directly into the city.

Colorado Springs doesn't have a major river channel running through town to accomplish the same thing (Fountain Creek doesn't count)...and that's the major reason for the difference (with tonight being a good example).

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wind gusts from Friday, 11/6/2009

Some of the power of the jetstream overhead found its way to the surface in southern Colorado Friday, and here are some of the gusts from the NewsFirst 5 WeatherBug Net stations.

91 mph - Monarch Pass
53 mph - Woodmen Valley (Colorado Springs)
48 mph - USAF Academy
45 mph - Salida/Pueblo West
44 mph - La Veta Pass
42 mph - Gleneagle
38 mph - Briargate
36 mph - Divide/Monument
34 mph - Buena Vista
32 mph - Pueblo airport/Rye/Canon City
30 mph - Woodland Park
29 mph - Cheraw/Fort Carson
28 mph - Trinidad
26 mph - Cripple Creek/Fountain/Calhan
25 mph - Downtown Pueblo
22 mph - Fowler
20 mph - Downtown Colorado Springs

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why are weather conditions so different across town?

Another "Ask Mike" question today. "Why are weather conditions so different from one side of Colorado Springs to the other? It can be warm at Fort Carson and freezing near Peterson Field, or vice versa. What's going on?"

GREAT question, and there are a few factors at work. The first one is that if the air is moving uphill, it cools and is more likely to form clouds. If it's moving downhill, it tends to be warmer and drier. That's true whether it's moving from north to south (Monument to Pueblo) or from Broadmoor Bluffs to Peterson AFB (west to east).

The other factor is elevation. Cold air sinks, and tends to pool in the lower elevations, so we can have days with cold temperatures and lingering low clouds/fog at the lowest elevations, while a quick trip to the west on Highway 24 (to higher elevations up Ute Pass) will quickly bring you back into the world of mild temperatures and sunshine.

Combine those basic principles with the great variety of terrain we have in southern Colorado, we can have situations where snowfall totals vary widely from block to block, and a drive from one side of town to the other is like traveling to a different state.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Question about pollen and weather conditions

Mary Lou "Asked Mike" "with such swings in temperature these days, when can allergy sufferers be confident that outside allergans are finally dead for the winter?

The answer is...the pollen part is a bit out of my area, but with springlike conditions over the next few days, anything that's still alive and that can respond to highs in the 70s and 80s may "puff" out a little pollen. It also depends what area you live in.

Today is a good example. There are two allergan reporting stations in Colorado Springs, and as of this afternoon, one was reporting traces of sage, ragweek, goosefoot, pigweed, saltbush and Russian thistle. The other one (and the one I'd trust more) was reporting nothing.

Remember that there are also things inside your home that can trigger your allergies, and an "allergy pro" can help you get a handle on these.

For more information, I'd refer you to the William Storms Allergy Clinic www.stormsallergy.com.
(I've interviewed him for stories in the past, and was impressed with what he knows).

Don't forget to "Ask Mike" your weather-related question. I've got the answer to another interesting one tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Haier 7" Portable Digital LCD-TV

How about a technology review today? (I spent a lot of time doing these for a national radio audience with my show "Technology Today", so just to keep from getting rusty, I'll do one of these once in awhile.

Before the switch-over to all digital television in Colorado, I kept a little 3" color portable analog tv in my briefcase, and it was handy to be able to fire it up, check any developing situations, get the latest on any game that interested me, etc.

That all ended with the digital switch-over. No analog signals available anymore (and carrying a digital converter box that's 3 times the size of the tv doesn't work for me).

Being an inveterate shopper, I've been demo-ing various units, waiting for the right price, and it finally happened.

The well-reviewed Haier 7" portable digital LCD-TV (HLT-71) went down to $99.99 at my local Target, and snagged the last one in the case.

Set up was "interesting". With any digital TV, you need to let it do a "channel scan" to establish what signals there are in your location. Plugged it in, screwed on the REALLY long antenna (a good thing), and ran the scan. Only got the local PBS channel.

OK, I was indoors (where I watch most of my tv shows) and in my basement in an area where a bluff blocks many of the tv signals anyway.

Undaunted, I took everything upstairs to the bedroom on the highest level and with the least house between me and Cheyenne Mountain. BINGO! everything was there. The picture is outstanding, the audio clear, and there are LOTS of channels available.

Remember that one of the rules of digital tv is that either you get a signal, or you get nothing, so those snowy, "I can almost see what's going on" days of marginal analog signals are gone (Darn!).

Since I'm in a poor reception area, I was impressed that there's a room in my house where I can get as many signals as I do, and I get the one I was most interested in (NewsFirst Now, Newsfirst 5's weather channel).

So here are the specifications..
The 7" portable comes with the antenna, an AC adapter, remote control, and has a built-in HD tuner. It will show off your favorite programs in 16:9 widescreen format, has 2 built-in speakers that crank out sufficient audio (and it's not bad), and a little piece that extends from the back to serve as a stand.

Inputs/Outputs include most of the standard ones you'd expect..coaxial audio, headphone jack and A/V out to connect to your home audio system.

It's about the size of a book (one by almost everybody but Steven King), comes with a 1 year warranty (which I hopefully won't need), and has rechargeable batteries.

Oh, one thing you need to know is that it only pulls in signals if it's stationary, so this isn't the choice for you for your boat or RV, but for a "bedroom digital", a "see my Ipod movies on a bigger screen", or an "I want to keep an eye on the game while my significant other shops" TV, I think we have a winner.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Chinook Winds

One of the most amazing weather phenomena we have east of the Rocky Mountains is Chinook winds, those westerly breezes that blow down the slopes of the mountains, making the snow disappear almost like magic.

As the wind moves down the east slopes of the rockies, the air becomes so warm and so dry that in most cases, the snow doesn't melt, it goes directly from snow to water vapor (which may be why some call these winds "snow eaters").

In any case, they'll be blowing for the next few days in southern Colorado, so expect rapidly disappearing snow and above-average highs.

By the way, we aren't the only place in the world that experiences these winds. The general category of "downslope" warming winds is "Foehn", from Austria, where they were first categorized. The Santa Ana of California works by the same process.