August, 2012

Don’t miss MDA’s Show of Strength This Weekend

August 31st, 2012 at 9:15 pm by under Weather

Don’t miss it, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on KXAN Sunday night!

Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, and Carole King are set to headline the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Labor Day weekend entertainment special — now called MDA SHOW of STRENGTH.

The show, featuring more than a dozen of today’s top entertainers, also will include inspirational “stories of strength” about families affected by muscular dystrophy and related diseases.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the show and the incredible talent we have lined up this year,” said MDA Interim President Valerie Cwik, M.D. “MDA is in business to save and enhance lives. Our show will both entertain and urge the American public to answer the call to support critically important research and services for more than a million Americans affected by neuromuscular diseases.”

MDA SHOW of STRENGTH, a three-hour prime-time broadcast special, will air on Sunday, Sept. 2, beginning at 6:30 p.m.  The show will include performances and celebrity appearances from Hollywood, Nashville and New York.

In addition to Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, and Carole King, the following stars also are scheduled to appear: All-American Rejects, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, B.o.B, Brandy, Luke Bryan, Gavin DeGraw, Hot Chelle Rae, Karmin, Alanis Morissette, OneRepublic, Eva Simons, Paula Abdul, Max Adler, Jann Carl, Diana DeGarmo, Lou Ferrigno, Benji Madden, Joel Madden, Jesse McCartney, Tim McGraw, The Miz, Nancy O’Dell, Khloe Kardashian Odom, Alison Sweeney, Ace Young and more. (more…)

Once in a blue moon

August 31st, 2012 at 1:56 pm by under Weather

Friday night’s full moon will be the second in the month of August–something so rare the phrase “once in a blue moon” became associated with it. The next “blue moon” will occur July 31, 2015. Here’s more from EarthSky. Click here to visit their website or sign up for daily science updates.

 The August 31, 2012 full moon is a Blue Moon

Moon shot with blue filter via our friend Jv Noriega
Moon shot with blue filter via our friend Jv Noriega
According to modern folklore, a Blue Moon is the second full moon of a calendar month. Learn how this name came to be, in this post.

August 2012 is a month with two full moons. And, by popular acclaim, that means it’s a Blue Moon month – but Blue in name only. That’s because a Blue Moon is sometimes defined as the second full moon in a calendar month. The first full moon is August 1. The second full moon is August 31, 2012. The second full moon of August 2012 is the Blue Moon.

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There are two more definitions for Blue Moon. It can be the third of four full moons in a single season. Or, someday, you might see an actual blue-colored moon.

The August 31 Blue Moon will not be blue in color. This photo was created using special filters. This August 2012 Blue Moon will be called Blue because it is the second full moon of a month. Image via EarthSky Facebook friend Jv Noriega.

It’s very rare that you would see a blue-colored moon, although unusual sky conditions – certain-sized particles of dust or smoke – can create them. Blue-colored moons aren’t predictable. So don’t be misled by the photo above. The sorts of moons people commonly call Blue Moons aren’t usually blue. For more about truly blue-colored moons, click here. (more…)

Austin Water activates Stage 2 water restrictions

August 30th, 2012 at 10:10 pm by under Weather


Storage levels of Lake Travis and Buchanan to drop below 900,000 acre-feet

Austin Water announced today it will activate Drought Response Stage 2 Water Use Restrictions beginning Tuesday, September 4. This decision is prompted by projected combined storage levels of Lakes Travis and Buchanan dropping below 900,000 acre-feet within the next week.

Stage 1 restrictions have been in effect for the past six weeks. The brief return to a two-day per week watering schedule provided relief for customers concerned about trees and other landscaping investments through the hottest part of the summer. The time was also used by the city to update its water management strategy. The improved strategy allows for a more efficient overall response to water use during our area’s current drought conditions.

On August 16, the Austin City Council approved changes to the Water Conservation code that creates four drought stages that ramp up water use restrictions during times of drought to maximize water conservation. Watering days for residential customers under Stage 2 have changed to allow separate watering days for hose-end sprinklers and automatic irrigation systems. This change gives hose-end sprinkler customers a more reasonable timeframe for watering. The new Stage 2 schedule also spreads out water use to avoid peak demands on Austin Water’s treatment and distribution system.  Under the updated Water Conservation code, the following exemptions will be allowed any time of the day:

  • Soaker hoses on vegetable gardens
  • Automatic bubblers on trees or soaker hoses placed within the canopy drip line
  • Hand watering with a hose or watering can.


Marble Falls implements Stage 2 water restrictions

August 29th, 2012 at 7:11 pm by under Weather
MFLLBJ logo 2012
Please see this important message form the City of Marble Falls …







Officials may intentionally breach levee

August 29th, 2012 at 3:40 pm by under Weather

Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Keith Billiot, left, Lanny LaFrance, center, and Sam Maltese, right, battle the wind and rain from Hurricane Isaac while riding in a rescue boat Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, in Braithwaite, La. Maltese and his family were rescued from their flooded home. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Newly downgraded Tropical Storm Isaac plodded its way across Louisiana on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, with officials weighing whether to bust a hole in a levee to relieve some of the water that was spilling over a wall in a rural part of the state Wednesday.

Rescues were carried out there while in New Orleans, the levee system was holding, though power lines were downed and debris littered the streets, prompting officials to impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said officials may cut a hole in a levee on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish to relieve pressure on the structure. At a news conference in Baton Rouge, Jindal said there was no estimate on when that might occur.

He said as many as 40 people are reportedly in need of rescue in the area.

Plaquemines Parish has also ordered a mandatory evacuation for the west bank of the Mississippi River below Belle Chasse, worried about a storm surge. The order affects about 3,000 people in the area, including a nursing home with 112 residents. (more…)

Isaac creates storm surge worse than Gustav’s

August 28th, 2012 at 11:00 pm by under Weather
Our regular readers know we are fans of Dr. Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground.  We appreciate his giving us permission to re-publish some of his blog posts that we find most interesting. This is one of those, relating to Hurricane Isaac’s continuing impact.
Published: 2:27 AM GMT on August 29, 2012

Hurricane Isaac is ashore over Southeast Louisiana, having officially crossed the coast on the Mississippi Delta 90 miles southeast of New Orleans at 7:45 am EDT on August 28. Isaac intensified right up until landfall, striking with 80 mph winds and a central pressure of 970 mb. The storm’s large size and large 50 – 60 mile diameter eye kept the intensification rate slow today, but it came quite close to becoming a significantly more dangerous storm. That’s because at landfall, Isaac was in the midst of establishing a small inner eyewall within its large 50-mile diameter eye, a very rare feat I’ve never seen before. Usually, when an eye first forms, it gradually contracts, eventually becoming so small that it becomes unstable. An outer concentric eyewall then forms around the small inner eyewall, eventually becoming the only eyewall when the inner eyewall collapses. But Isaac is a very unusual storm that has continually surprised us, and this inside-out concentric eyewall formation fits the storm’s unusual character. The storm isn’t in a hurry to move fully inland, and has slowed down to a crawl this evening. This will give the storm the opportunity to keep its center mostly over water a few more hours, and maintain hurricane strength into the early morning on Wednesday.

Figure 1. Radar reflectivity image from New Orleans as Isaac made landfall at 6 pm CDT August 28, 2012.

A dangerous storm surge event underway
Isaac is bringing large and dangerous storm surge to the coast from Central Louisiana to the Panhandle of Florida. At 10 pm EDT, here were some of the storm surge values being recorded at NOAA tide gauges:

6.2′ Waveland, MS
9.9′ Shell Beach, LA
3.0′ Pensacola, FL
4.4′ Pascagoula, MS
3.4′ Mobile, AL

The 9.9′ storm surge at Shell Beach, which is in Lake Borgne 20 miles southeast of New Orleans, exceeds the 9.5′ surge recorded there during Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008. Research scientists running a Doppler on Wheels radar located on top of the 16′ levees in Plaquemines Parish near Port Sulphur, LA, reported at 8:30 pm EDT that a storm surge of 14′ moved up the Mississippi River, and was just 2′ below the levees. Waves on top of the surge were cresting over the west side of the levee. Needless to say, they were very nervous. Over the past hour, the surge has retreated some, and waves were no longer lapping over the top of the levee. This is probably due to the fact that we’re headed towards low tide. A storm surge of 9.5′ has moved up the Mississippi River to the Carrrollton gauge in New Orleans. This is not a concern for the levees in New Orleans, since the storm surge has now brought the river up to 2.5′ above its normal water level, which was 7′ low due to the 2012 U.S. drought. The highest rise of the water above ground level will occur Wednesday morning over much of Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle, when the tide comes back in. It is clear now that this storm surge event will be as dangerous as that of Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008. One piece of good news: NWS New Orleans successfully launched their 00Z balloon. However, their discussion noted the atmosphere is “saturated or nearly saturated” all the way up to 470mb, or 20,000 feet. Precipitable water was 2.76 inches, which will be ripe for extremely heavy rainfall. (more…)

Arctic Sea Ice Shrinks to New Low

August 28th, 2012 at 1:10 pm by under Weather

Arctic Sea Ice on Aug. 26, 2012 › View larger
This visualization shows the extent of Arctic sea ice on Aug. 26, 2012, the day the sea ice dipped to its smallest extent ever recorded in more than three decades of satellite measurements, according to scientists from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The data is from the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program’s Special Sensor Microwave/Imager. The line on the image shows the average minimum extent from the period covering 1979-2010, as measured by satellites. Every summer the Arctic ice cap melts down to what scientists call its “minimum” before colder weather builds the ice cover back up. The size of this minimum remains in a long-term decline. The extent on Aug. 26. 2012 broke the previous record set on Sept. 18, 2007. But the 2012 melt season could still continue for several weeks. Image credit: Scientific Visualization Studio, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The extent of the sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has shrunk. According to scientists from NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo., the amount is the smallest size ever observed in the three decades since consistent satellite observations of the polar cap began.

The extent of Arctic sea ice on Aug. 26, as measured by the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager on the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program spacecraft and analyzed by NASA and NSIDC scientists, was 1.58 million square miles (4.1 million square kilometers), or 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) below the Sept. 18, 2007, daily extent of 1.61 million square miles (4.17 million square kilometers). (more…)

Wide Awake in the Sea of Tranquillity

August 27th, 2012 at 2:47 pm by under Weather

The Apollo 11 moon landing of July 1969 was as heart-pounding as any modern sci-fi thriller–and far more transformative. To mark the passing of the man who stepped out of the lunar lander and put his footprint in the moondust first, Science@NASA invites you to read a retrospective story about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s historic visit to the Sea of Tranquillity.


Neil Armstrong was supposed to be asleep. The moonwalking was done. The moon rocks were stowed away. His ship was ready for departure. In just a few hours, the Eagle’s ascent module would blast off the Moon, something no ship had ever done before, and Neil needed his wits about him. He curled up on the Eagle’s engine cover and closed his eyes.

But he could not sleep.

Neither could Buzz Aldrin. In the cramped lander, Buzz had the sweet spot, the floor. He stretched out as much as he could in his spacesuit and closed his eyes. Nothing happened. On a day like this, sleep was out of the question.

Above: Apollo 11 Earthrise. [More]

July 20, 1969: The day began on the farside of the Moon. Armstrong, Aldrin and crewmate Mike Collins flew their spaceship 60 miles above the cratered wasteland. No one on Earth can see the Moon’s farside. Even today it remains a land of considerable mystery, but the astronauts had no time for sight-seeing. Collins pressed a button, activating a set of springs, and the spaceship split in two. The half named Columbia, with Collins on board, would remain in orbit. The other half, the Eagle, spiraled over the horizon toward the Sea of Tranquillity. (more…)

School haze

August 27th, 2012 at 12:09 pm by under Weather

It’s the first day of school!

Lilly watches KXAN News Today as she gets ready for her first day of pre-k (Courtesy: KXAN viewer Brianna)

Send your first day of school pics to

Here are some environmental tips from our partners at Earth Gauge:

This is the time of year when kids head back to school.  About 25 million kids ride the bus to and from school each day and experts estimate that 10 to 14 percent of all personal vehicle trips made during the peak morning commuting hours are taking kids to school.  Increased traffic and idling vehicles create air pollutants that can aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions. Kids are more susceptible to health effects from poor air quality because their systems are not fully developed. They also spend more time engaged in high activity levels, which causes them to breathe more deeply.


Isaac update, 7 years since Katrina

August 26th, 2012 at 9:57 pm by under Weather

**Update**  Here is the latest 10pm (11pm edt) update for TS Isaac.


It was 7 years to the date that we were keeping our eyes on a strengthening storm in the Gulf of Mexico just north of Key West, Florida.  Today, we are watching a tropical storm just south of Key West with a forecast track that is very similar to that of the very destructive Hurricane Katrina.  Both of the below images are from the 5pm August 26th advisories for both Katrina (2005) and Isaac (2012)

Now, I will note there are a lot of differences in the two storms, but for folks in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama along the Gulf Coast must be thinking ‘not again’.  Exactly 7 years ago Katrina was a little more north than Isaac is today, and more importantly was already a Cat 2 hurricane with winds at 100 mph.  The forecast tracks for both storms head right over the very warm Loop Current in the Gulf.  This area usually promotes more rapid intensification of the storms, and with Katrina this proved very true.  In a 12 hour period from 10pm on August 27 to 10am on August 28, Katrina went from a low end Cat 3 Hurricane with winds at 115mph (Cat 3 is 111-129mph) to a strong Cat 5 with winds at 175 mph.  The official forecast for Isaac makes it into a strong Cat 2 at landfall, with a one or two models pushing it to near Cat 3 or major hurricane status before landfall.

Here is the latest 0z run of the tropical models for Isaac:

What is interesting to note is the official forecast track is the thin black line that makes landfall in Mississippi is the official forecast track.  According to this graphic most of the model guidance has Isaac going to the left (west) of the official track.  I will note that the European and Canadian models are still both right (east) of the official track.  Since there is still a decent spread in the model guidance by day 3 for this storm, the forecast fan does cover an area from Central Louisiana to the western portion of the Florida panhandle.  This is the same area that is under a Hurricane Warning.

Below is a wave height forecast for 10am on Tuesday morning.

This is not good news for folks in the northern Gulf, or along the Northern Gulf Coast as all that extra water has to go somewhere.

Now, I am not in the business of forecasting oil or gas prices, but it is interesting to note the location of where we have most of our oil interests in the Gulf of Mexico.

Thanks to for the image.