Time to register for the Mighty Texas Dog Walk

April 23rd, 2014 at 3:44 pm by under Weather

The Mighty Texas Dog Walk moves to an exciting new location, and promises to be more fun than ever! KXAN is proud to be a sponsor again this year of this important fundraiser for Service Dogs, Inc.  Our mascot Kaxan and I will be there, and we hope you will join us Saturday May 17th at 9 a.m.

CLICK HERE to visit the website or register online.

WAG & SWAG!  After a scenic stroll around the Palmer Center’s manicured grounds, join us indoors for state-of-the-art dog products, services, entertainment, games and prizes.

NEW THIS YEAR:  PAW SEARCH!

Put your best paw forward!  Introduce your dog to Bobbi Colorado, full service animal actor talent provider.  Bobbi is always looking for animals, especially dogs, for feature films, television programs, television commercials, advertisements, theatrical performances and live performances.

Paw Search Merrick

Paw Search sponsored by Merrick presents Bobbi Colorado, here with Faith on the set of “Joe” the upcoming movie starring Nicolas Cage

Bobbi Colorado - yogurt

Filming Chobani Yogurt commercial

Super Classy Feature:  World’s Biggest Fur Ball attempt.
Start brushing your pup, save that fur and bring it to our Fur-O-Sphere  for a new Guinness World Record!

Fur Ball MTDW '12 (12)

Proud winner of Guinness World Record for “Biggest Fur Ball” 201 lbs!
Now, let’s beat it!

SAVE $10 – Register Early!

Only $30/dog!

Register Online for $10 Discount!Available through May 16 @ 5 PM

Other ways to register:

In Person

Sat., April 26   10 – 4

Sat., May 3  10 – 4
Bark ‘N Purr
4603 Burnet Road
Austin, TX 78756
(512) 452-3883

Sat., May 10  11 – 6
Sun., May 11  11 – 6
Wed., May 14  11 – 8
Thur., May 15  11 – 8
Fri., May 16  11 – 8
Petco
9828 Great Hills Trail
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 345-2355

and

Petco
5601 Brodie Ln
Sunset Valley, TX 78745
(512) 892-7804

By Mail

Postmark by May 9, 2014
Make check payable to:

Service Dogs, Inc.

Mail registration form & payment to:

Service Dogs, Inc.
4925 Bell Springs Rd.
Dripping Springs, TX 78620


U.S. is warming fast since first Earth Day

April 22nd, 2014 at 3:04 pm by under Weather

(Climate Central)

Some States Warming at Twice Global Rate

It’s been 44 years since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, and since that time, average temperatures have been rising across the U.S. This Climate Central interactive graphic shows a state-by-state analysis of those temperature trends.

Average temperatures across most of the continental U.S. have been rising gradually for more than a century, at a rate of about 0.127°F per decade between 1910-2012. That trend parallels an overall increase in average global temperatures, which is largely the result of human greenhouse gas emissions. While global warming isn’t uniform, and some regions are warming faster than others, since the 1970s, warming across the U.S. has accelerated, previously shown in our report The Heat is On. Since then, every state’s annual average temperature has risen accordingly. On average, temperatures in the contiguous 48 states have been warming at a rate of 0.48°F per decade since 1970, nearly twice the global average.

Delaware and Wisconsin are tied as the fastest-warming states since 1970, warming at a rate of 0.67°F per decade. Average annual temperatures in the two states are about 3°F warmer than they were 44 years ago. Vermont, New Jersey, and Michigan are warming nearly as fast, and all are warming about twice as fast as the global average. The slowest-warming states are Washington, Georgia, Florida, and Oregon – warming just more than 0.3°F per decade since 1970 — and are on pace with average global temperatures.

For detailed information on individual states, click on any state in the interactive graphic above.

On a regional scale, the fastest-warming areas are the Northeast, Midwest and Southwest, while the Pacific Northwest and Southeast are warming more slowly. Of the lower 48 states, 26 have warmed more than 2°F since 1970, and 16 have warmed more than 2.5°F.

The data in this analysis came from the National Climatic Data Center’s Climate at a Glance database.


Hail, heavy rain batters Hill Country

April 21st, 2014 at 11:01 pm by under Weather

A weak cool front moving through the Hill Country Monday afternoon interacted with a very unstable atmosphere – quickly firing multi-cell severe thunderstorm complexes. These storms drifted slowly southward Monday evening, dropping heavy rain and hail across most of the Hill Country.

Monday's rain totals, courtesy of the LCRA Hydromet network

Monday’s rain totals, courtesy of the LCRA Hydromet network

Rain totals as high as 1.91″ were reported in the Lake LBJ inflow region – good news for our suffering Highland Lakes.

The heavy rain likely will not produce much runoff however, since the “extreme” drought conditions in the Hill Country mean the thirsty ground likely absorbed much of the water.

Here are the largest hail reports from the National Weather Service:

PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT...SUMMARY
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
834 PM CDT MON APR 21 2014

..TIME...   ...EVENT...      ...CITY LOCATION...     ...LAT.LON...
..DATE...   ....MAG....      ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. ...SOURCE....
            ..REMARKS..

0341 PM     HAIL             2 N LLANO               30.78N  98.67W
04/21/2014  M0.25 INCH       LLANO              TX   PUBLIC          

            PEA SIZED HAIL AT LLANO AIRPORT 

0400 PM     HAIL             1 ESE LLANO             30.75N  98.67W
04/21/2014  M1.00 INCH       LLANO              TX   COCORAHS        

0405 PM     HAIL             1 WSW LLANO             30.75N  98.68W
04/21/2014  E0.88 INCH       LLANO              TX   TRAINED SPOTTER 

0407 PM     HAIL             1 N LLANO               30.77N  98.67W
04/21/2014  M1.00 INCH       LLANO              TX   PUBLIC          

0513 PM     HAIL             9 S LLANO               30.62N  98.67W
04/21/2014  M1.00 INCH       LLANO              TX   PUBLIC          

            TIME ESTIMATED FROM RADAR 

0531 PM     HAIL             10 S LLANO              30.61N  98.67W
04/21/2014  M0.50 INCH       LLANO              TX   PUBLIC          

            LOCATION IS APPROX 1 MILE NNE OF OXFORD 

0550 PM     HAIL             10 NE ENCHANTED ROCK ST 30.61N  98.73W
04/21/2014  M1.50 INCH       LLANO              TX   STORM CHASER    

            HAIL SIZES RANGED FROM HALF INCH TO 1.50 INCHES 

0602 PM     HAIL             6 NNW ENCHANTED ROCK ST 30.58N  98.90W
04/21/2014  E2.00 INCH       LLANO              TX   CO-OP OBSERVER  

0609 PM     HAIL             13 S LLANO              30.56N  98.67W
04/21/2014  M1.75 INCH       LLANO              TX   CO-OP OBSERVER  

0638 PM     HAIL             5 W WILLOW CITY         30.40N  98.78W
04/21/2014  M1.75 INCH       GILLESPIE          TX   TRAINED SPOTTER 

0643 PM     HAIL             WILLOW CITY             30.40N  98.70W
04/21/2014  M1.00 INCH       GILLESPIE          TX   TRAINED SPOTTER 

            PEA TO QUARTER SIZED HAIL COVERING THE GROUND IN WILLOW 
            CITY 

0646 PM     HAIL             2 WSW WILLOW CITY       30.38N  98.73W
04/21/2014  M2.00 INCH       GILLESPIE          TX   COCORAHS        

0703 PM     HAIL             12 N FREDERICKSBURG     30.44N  98.87W
04/21/2014  M1.00 INCH       GILLESPIE          TX   PUBLIC          

0710 PM     HAIL             12 E FREDERICKSBURG     30.27N  98.67W
04/21/2014  M1.00 INCH       GILLESPIE          TX   TRAINED SPOTTER 

            LOCATION IS 3.5 MILES NORTH OF STONEWALL 

0710 PM     HAIL             6 E LBJ STATE PARK      30.25N  98.53W
04/21/2014  M0.70 INCH       BLANCO             TX   COCORAHS        

0800 PM     HAIL             7 NNW HARPER            30.39N  99.29W
04/21/2014  E0.25 INCH       GILLESPIE          TX   TRAINED SPOTTER 

0822 PM     HAIL             1 SE HARPER             30.29N  99.23W
04/21/2014  E1.00 INCH       GILLESPIE          TX   COCORAHS        

            SOME QUARTER SIZE HAIL MIXED WITH MOSTLY SMALLER 
            PIECES.

Severe weather threat Monday

April 20th, 2014 at 9:31 am by under Weather

4-20 SVR

 

The NOAA Storm Prediction Center places all of the Hill Country and I-35 corridor (including Metro Austin) in the threat of severe thunderstorms Monday afternoon and evening.

An unstable atmosphere is set to interact with a weak cold front sliding through the area to fire isolated severe thunderstorms – some of which could be damaging supercells with hail over 1″ in diameter. The storms are also forecast to be slow-movers, bringing about the threat of isolated flash flooding.

An important note as we prepare for a potential severe weather event…

**The NOAA transmitter that broadcasts severe weather watches/warnings to Hill Country communities is still out of service. This means that your NOAA Weather Radio will likely not sound an alarm if severe weather is approaching your area.**

The tower sustained a lightning strike weeks ago, and technicians are working hard to get the transmitter up and running again.

In the meantime, KXAN can act as your notification service when severe weather threatens.

The First Warning Weather team offers text and email alerts that are specific to your county – notifying you of impending dangerous weather, and keeping you ahead of the storm.

Signing up is easy and only takes one minute: click here for text message alerts and here for email alerts.


San Marcos enters Stage 3 water restrictions Easter Sunday

April 19th, 2014 at 5:57 am by under Weather

From the City of San Marcos:

San Marcos will go into Stage 3 effective April 20, 2014 at noon. 

Stage 3 Drought Restrictions:Wastewater Hotline

  • Waste of water is prohibited. Waste includes allowing water to puddle or run off a property, operating a sprinkler system with broken or misaligned heads, and failing to repair leaks.
  • Irrigation with sprinklers is allowed only one day every other week on the designated weekday between the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. to midnight.

    • April 21-25: Sprinklers allowed on designated day/times.
    • April 28 – May 2: No sprinklers.
    • May 5 – 9: Sprinklers allowed on designated day/times.
    • May 12 – 16: No sprinklers.

 ADDRESSES ENDING WITH:  DESIGNATED WEEKDAY IS:
 0 or 1  Monday
 2 or 3  Tuesday
 4 or 5  Wednesday
 6 or 7  Thursday
 8 or 9  Friday
  • Hand-watering using hand-held bucket or hand-held hose is allowed any day before 10:00 a.m. or after and 8:00 p.m.
  • Irrigation of landscaping with a soaker hose or drip irrigation system is allowed only one day per week on the designated weekday before 10:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m.
  • Irrigation of vegetable gardens with a soaker hose or drip irrigation system is allowed any day before 10:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m.
  • Charity car washes are prohibited unless held at a commercial car wash.
  • At-home car washing is prohibited.
  • Swimming pools should be at least partially covered when not in use to minimize evaporative losses.
  • Filling new and existing swimming pools is prohibited.
  • Using indoor and outdoor decorative water features is prohibited.
  • Washing impervious surfaces is prohibited unless required for health and safety.
  • Foundation watering is allowed only one day per week on the designated weekday before 10:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m.
  • Restaurants are allowed to serve water only upon specific request by the customer.
  • All other non-essential water usage is prohibited.

Drought Response Ordinance

Watering Day Variance Request

To report violations, please call the Water Waster Hotline at 512.393.8360.
If you have any questions, contact Jan Klein, Conservation Coordinator,
via e-mail or at 512-393-8310.


Drought update

April 17th, 2014 at 4:45 pm by under Weather

It’s no secret we’ve seen little rain this winter. Rainfall totals at Camp Mabry in Austin fall well below the averages for the first three months of the year.

 4-17 Rain totals
 April’s rain hasn’t helped much as far as our drought goes. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor still has all of the Hill Country in extreme drought while areas from Austin east range from abnormally dry to moderate drought.
20140415_tx_none

DROUGHT INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
112 PM CDT THU APR 17 2014

...DESPITE SPOTTY RAINFALL DROUGHT CONDITIONS OVER THE PAST WEEK
HAVE GOTTEN WORSE...

SYNOPSIS...

APRIL HAS SEEN BOTH WARM AND COLD TEMPERATURES AND A COUPLE OF
RAINFALL EVENTS. FOR THE MOST PART RAINFALL HAS BEEN SPOTTY AND
LESS THAN ONE-HALF INCH...BUT A FEW LOCATIONS HAVE SEEN RAINFALL
OF ONE TO TWO INCHES. NOW THAT WE ARE MOVING INTO SPRING SOME OF
THE STORMS HAVE BEEN STRONG TO SEVERE WITH HAIL AND HIGH WINDS.
FOR THE MONTH TO DATE MOST LOCATIONS HAVE SEEN LESS THAN ONE INCH
OF RAINFALL. OVER THE RIO GRANDE PLAINS MANY LOCATIONS HAVE SEE NO
RAINFALL IN APRIL AND LESS THAN A HALF INCH SINCE JANUARY 1ST. THE
NEXT SEVERAL DAYS WILL SEE TEMPERATURES NEAR OR SLIGHTLY ABOVE MID
APRIL AVERAGES. THERE WILL BE A COUPLE OF CHANCES FOR AT LEAST
SCATTERED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS. SHORT TERM DROUGHT IMPACTS
REMAIN AT A MINIMUM IN MANY LOCATIONS...BUT WILL GET WORSE IF
DRIER CONDITIONS CONTINUE. CURRENTLY THE MAIN SHORT TERM IMPACTS
ARE MANY LOCATIONS HAVE WATER RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE. FIRE WEATHER
CONCERNS ARE INCREASING DUE TO MAINLY LIGHT RAINFALL AMOUNTS...
GUSTY WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITIES THAT QUICKLY DRY THE FUELS. LONG
TERM IMPACTS CONTINUE SINCE WE HAVE BEEN IN A MULTIPLE YEAR
DROUGHT. RIVERS...LAKES...RESERVOIRS AND AQUIFERS ARE VERY LOW AND
WILL REMAIN THAT WAY UNLESS WE CONTINUE TO SEE FREQUENT RAINFALL
EVENTS.

THE CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER (CPC) IS FORECASTING THE ENSO (EL
NINO SOUTHERN OSCILLATION) NEUTRAL PATTERN TO CONTINUE INTO
SUMMER 2014. THE CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED AN EL NINO
WATCH...SAYING THERE IS A 50 PERCENT OR GREATER CHANCE AN EL NINO
EVENT WILL DEVELOP IN THE SUMMER OR EARLY FALL. EVEN THOUGH LA
NINA AND EL NINO EVENTS HAVE SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS ACROSS THE
REGION...OTHER CIRCULATIONS ACROSS THE GLOBE HELP DRIVE WEATHER
PATTERNS TOO... SO WE SHOULD NOT JUST BE LOOKING AT ONE
PATTERN...BUT OTHERS AS WELL TO POTENTIALLY PROVIDE RAINFALL FOR
THE REGION.

THE US DROUGHT MONITOR (USDM) VALID APRIL 15TH AND ISSUED ON APRIL
17TH INDICATED DROUGHT CONDITIONS HAVE GOTTEN SLIGHTLY WORSE
ACROSS PORTIONS OF SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS OVER THE PAST WEEK.
ABNORMALLY DRY (D0) TO EXTREME DROUGHT (D3) CONDITIONS WERE
PRESENT ACROSS SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS. MOST LOCATIONS ARE CURRENTLY
IN MODERATE DROUGHT (D1) TO SEVERE DROUGHT (D2) STATUS. THERE
CONTINUED TO BE AREAS OF EXTREME DROUGHT (D3) ACROSS THE RIO
GRANDE PLAINS AND PORTIONS THE HILL COUNTRY...MAINLY IN
GILLESPIE...KERR... BANDERA...MEDINA AND VAL VERDE COUNTIES.

CURRENTLY 66 PERCENT OF THE STATE IS IN MODERATE DROUGHT (D1) TO
EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT (D4) AND TEN PERCENT OF THE STATE IS IN
EXCEPTIONAL (D4) DROUGHT STATUS.

 Read the rest of this entry »

Grow Green this spring

April 16th, 2014 at 7:06 pm by under Weather

4-16 Grow Green

Want a beautiful Central Texas garden that is good for your pocket book and the environment? Learn how to select the right plant for the right place so you can use fewer resources on your garden.

Grow Green is a gardening education program that promotes sustainable landscaping practices. It addresses water quality and conservation, recycling, and an Integrated Pest Management philosophy, which encourages the least-toxic way to address pest issues.

This program includes: Landscape Professional Training, a list of landscape professionals who have completed the training series, classes for the public (see upcoming events to the right), participation in the Zilker Garden Festival, Texas Native Plant Week, a searchable plant database, print resources, demonstration gardens, and tips on landscape design/plants/pests.

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions

Source: City of Austin


Our favorite lunar eclipse photos

April 15th, 2014 at 3:35 pm by under Weather

Apparently many of you stayed up late last night to view the “blood moon” during the total lunar eclipse! We received many viewer photos (click here for a time lapse), but our favorites were these, taken by local photographers Marco Gutierrez and  Jared Tennant.  Marco’s photo is the eclipse over the Pennybacker bridge. Jared’s are the Capitol shots.  We thank them for sharing them with us and you!

4-14 time lapse eclipse over Pennybacker bridge

photo 1

 

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

 

While the photo below isn’t local, it is a beautiful sequence taken by photographer Mike Mezeul II, over a bluebonnet field in Ennis, TX.  We have posted the story behind the photo here.

4-14 Eclipse over Bluebonnets  - Mike Mezeul

 


Total lunar eclipse tonight

April 14th, 2014 at 2:50 pm by under Weather

Talk about good timing. Thanks to the rapid eastward movement of this morning’s storm system, clear skies are forecast for tonight’s total lunar eclipse. Details are below from our friends at EarthSky.

(Partial umbral eclipse begins: 12:58 a.m.  Tuesday morning,
total eclipse begins: 2:07 a.m.)

Total lunar eclipse in 2004 by Fred Espenak

The red planet Mars shines close to the full moon all night long.

The very bright red planet Mars shines close to the full moon on the night of the April 14-15 eclipse. What’s more, Mars is closest to Earth for the year on April 14. Read more about Mars at its closest on our April 13 sky post.

Above photo is a 2004 lunar eclipse by Fred Espenak. Oftentimes, the full moon appears coppery red during a total lunar eclipse because the dispersed light from all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the face of the moon. Thus the term Blood Moon can be and is applied to any and all total lunar eclipses.

However, the term Blood Moon seems to have special significance for some proponents of Christian prophesy, as a remarkable series of total lunar eclipses – a tetrad – begins. The first one falls on April 14 or 15 (depending on your time zone). On that night, the brilliant “star” near the April full moon is the red planet Mars, which comes closest to Earth for the year on April 14. Mars and the moon will be near each other as the eclipse takes place, and indeed, as seen from around the world, all night long. North America is in a good place to see this eclipse, by the way, and all four total eclipses of the lunar tetrad. Follow the links below to learn more about the April 14-15, 2014 total lunar eclipse:

Details on the total lunar eclipse on April 14-15.

Who will see the partial lunar eclipse on April 14-15?

Eclipse times in Universal Time

Eclipse times for North American time zones

Eclipse calculators give eclipse times for your time zone

What causes a lunar eclipse?

What is a Blood Moon?

How to photograph a lunar eclipse by eclipse master Fred Espenak

Track the moon every night throughout the year using EarthSky’s lunar calendar!

Worldwide map of April 14-15, 2014, total lunar eclipse

Worldwide map of the April 14-15, 2014, total lunar eclipse. View larger, courtesy of NASA Eclipse Web Site

View larger. | Worldwide map of the April 14-15, 2014, total lunar eclipse. Map courtesy NASA Eclipse Web Site

The moon passes through Earth's very light penumbral shadow before and after its journey across the dark umbral shadow

During a lunar eclipse, the moon always passes through Earth’s very light penumbral shadow before and after its journey through Earth’s dark umbral shadow.

Details on the total lunar eclipse of April 14-15. The April 2014 full moon passes directly through Earth’s dark (umbral) shadow. The total part of the April 14-15 eclipse lasts nearly 1.3 hours. A partial umbral eclipse precedes totality by over an hour, and follows totality by over an hour, so the moon takes a little more than 3.5 hours to completely sweep through the Earth’s dark shadow on the night of April 14-15.

North and South America, plus islands of the Pacific (such as Hawaii) are in the best position worldwide to watch the total eclipse of the moon on the night of April 14-15. Elsewhere around the world, New Zealand can watch the total eclipse shortly after sunset on April 15, and the eastern part of Australia can see the total eclipse, at least in part, starting at sunset on April 15.

A very light penumbral eclipse comes before and after the dark (umbral) stage of the lunar eclipse. But this sort of eclipse is so faint that many people won’t even notice it. The penumbral eclipse would be more fun to watch from the moon, where it would be seen as a partial eclipse of the sun.

Who will see the partial lunar eclipse of April 14-15? A partial lunar eclipse may be visible in the haze of morning dawn from the extreme western portion of Africa, before sunrise on April 15. A partial lunar eclipse can also be observed from Japan, far-eastern Russia, eastern Indonesia and central Australia, starting at sunset on April 15.

Above eclipse diagram, courtesy of Fred Espenak, gives the eclipse times in Greenwich Mean Time (also known as  Universal Time). Eclipse diagrams for any North American time zone, plus a treasure chest of information, can be found at Total Eclipse of the Moon: April 15, 2014

Above eclipse diagram, courtesy of Fred Espenak, gives the eclipse times in Greenwich Mean Time (also known as Universal Time). Eclipse diagrams for any North American time zone, plus a treasure chest of information, can be found at Total Eclipse of the Moon: April 15, 2014

Eclipse times in Universal Time

Partial umbral eclipse begins: 5:58 Universal Time (UT)
Total eclipse begins: 7:07 UT
Greatest eclipse: 7:46 UT
Total eclipse ends: 8:25 UT
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 9:33 UT

How do I translate Universal Time to my time?

Eclipse times for North American time zones.

Central Daylight Time (April 15, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 12:58 a.m. CDT on April 15
Total eclipse begins: 2:07 a.m. CDT
Greatest eclipse: 2:46 a.m. CDT
Total eclipse ends: 3:25 a.m. CDT
Partial eclipse ends: 4:33 a.m. CDT

 

Eclipse calculators give times of the April 14-15 lunar eclipse in your time zone

You have to be on the nighttime side of Earth while the lunar eclipse is taking place to witness this great natural phenomenon. Of course, people around the globe want to know whether the eclipse is visible from their part of the world and at what time. Check out the two links below, to find out if the eclipse is visible from your neck of the woods. If so, these handy sites provide you with the local times of the partial and total lunar eclipse (so no conversion is necessary):

Lunar eclipse computer courtesy of the US Naval Observatory

Eclipse calculator courtesy of TimeandDate

The yellow circle shows the sun's apparent yearly path (the ecliptic) in front of the constellations of the Zodiac. The gray circle displays the monthly path of the moon in front of the zodiacal constellations. If a new moon or full moon aligns closely with one of the moon's nodes, then an eclipse is in the works.

The yellow circle shows the sun’s apparent yearly path (the ecliptic) in front of the constellations of the Zodiac. The gray circle displays the monthly path of the moon in front of the zodiacal constellations. If a new moon or full moon aligns closely with one of the moon’s nodes, then an eclipse is in the works.

What causes a lunar eclipse? A lunar eclipse can only happen at full moon. Only then is it possible for the moon to be directly opposite the sun in our sky, and to pass into the Earth’s dark umbral shadow. Most of the time, however, the full moon eludes the Earth’s shadow by swinging to the north of it, or south of it. For instance, the March 2014 full moon swung south of the Earth’s shadow. Next month – in May 2014 – the full moon will swing north of the Earth’s shadow.

The moon’s orbital plane is actually inclined at 5o to the ecliptic – Earth’s orbital plane. However, the moon’s orbit intersects the ecliptic at two points called nodes. It’s an ascending node where it crosses the Earth’s orbital plane going from south to north, and a descending node where it crosses the Earth’s orbital plane, going from north to south.

In short, a lunar eclipse happens when the full moon closely coincides with one of its nodes, and a solar eclipse happens when a new moon does likewise.

Bottom line: The eclipse of April 14-15, 2014 is the first in a series of four eclipses – a lunar tetrad – all of which will be visible from North America. Many will call it a Blood Moon. The bright reddish “star” near the moon on that night is the planet Mars. Details of the eclipse, and eclipse times, here.

Need more details? Visit Fred Espenak’s page

A planisphere is virtually indispensable for beginning stargazers. Order your EarthSky planisphere today.

The moon passes through the Earth's shadow from west to east. The yellow line represents the ecliptic - Earth's orbital plane projected onto the dome of sky. The moon crosses the ecliptic at the moon's ascending node, going from south to north.

The moon passes through the Earth’s shadow from west to east. The yellow line represents the ecliptic – Earth’s orbital plane projected onto the dome of sky. The moon crosses the ecliptic at the moon’s ascending node, going from south to north.


Why pollen counts could double by 2075

April 14th, 2014 at 1:45 pm by under Weather

Pollen counts could double graph

(Climate Central) Winter sniffles will soon be no more, but that’s small consolation to allergy sufferers around the country. Pollen counts are about to climb upward as plants unfurl their leaves. Climate change has increased pollen counts and the length of the pollen season, trends that are expected to continue through mid-century.

Carbon dioxide plays a big role in pollen production, acting as food for plants. One of the most straightforward ways to analyze its impact on pollen production is to isolate plants in a growing chamber and pump in specific amounts of carbon dioxide. Researchers have done just that, and the changes are dramatic.

Although allergens vary from spring to fall, most of the data in published literature exists around ragweed because of the ability to isolate the effects of carbon dioxide around this species. And with the data, researchers have found that pollen production more than doubled when comparing 1999 carbon dioxide levels (around 370 ppm) to pre-Industrial times when carbon dioxide was much lower (about 280 ppm). In the future, if we continue to emit more carbon dioxide from human activities, pollen counts are likely to rise even higher. The research depicted in the graphic here shows a near doubling of pollen counts if carbon dioxide rises to 720 parts per million — a level that projections show could be reached around the year 2075, absent any significant mitigation of emissions.

Pollen season is also lengthening in much of the Midwest according to other research. In the Upper Midwest, ragweed pollen season increased by up to 24 days from 1995-2011. The only locations studied that show a shortening of the season are in the Southern Plains, but the decrease is only by a day, offering little respite for allergy sufferers.

In addition to rising carbon dioxide, higher temperatures are also driving these changes. It might not be the case for parts of the country this year, but the overall trend for warmer early spring temperatures allows plants to get a head start growing and a later first frost allows them to hang on longer. Those trends are expected to continue into the future, and will contribute to a further lengthening of pollen season.

For the more than half of all Americans who have at least one allergy, that’s bad news that might bring a tear to their eyes.