Jim Spencer

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.


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
9828 Great Hills Trail
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 345-2355


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.

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.

Wind Advisory and Freeze Watch issued

April 13th, 2014 at 7:14 pm by under Weather
The WIND ADVISORY will include all of the KXAN viewing area Monday.
The FREEZE WATCH includes only Mason and San Saba counties.

402 PM CDT SUN APR 13 2014




Odds of El Niño increasing–maybe a strong one

April 10th, 2014 at 3:01 pm by under Weather

Yesterday we reported to you the the Australian Bureau of Meteorology was forecasting a 70 percent chance of the development an El Niño ocean pattern later this year. Today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, in their monthly update, said the chances of the El Niño in 2014 are now greater than 50/50. In fact, model consensus indicates a 66% chance by this fall, with many models suggesting the warmer-than-normal ocean pattern will return by summer.

You can read the report below. Also, take a look at this article from Slate, where some forecasters are predicting a very strong El Niño may be in our future. Remember, El Niño patterns energize the southern jet stream, usually mean wetter than normal weather for Texas, which is exactly what we need after years of drought.

Ocean heat models predict El Nino is coming

Ocean heat models predict El Nino is coming

ENSO Alert System Status: El Niño Watch

Synopsis: While ENSO-neutral is favored for Northern Hemisphere spring, the chances of El Niño increase during the remainder of the year, exceeding 50% by summer.

ENSO-neutral continued during March 2014, but with above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) developing over much of the eastern tropical Pacific as well as near the International Date Line (Fig. 1). The weekly SSTs were below average in the Niño1+2 region, near average but rising in Niño3 and Niño3.4 regions, and above average in the Niño4 region (Fig. 2). A significant downwelling oceanic Kelvin wave that was initiated in January greatly increased the oceanic heat content to the largest March value in the historical record back to 1979 (Fig. 3) and produced large positive subsurface temperature anomalies across the central and eastern Pacific (Fig. 4). Also during March, low-level westerly wind anomalies were observed over the central equatorial Pacific. Convection was suppressed over western Indonesia, and enhanced over the central equatorial Pacific (Fig. 5). Although these atmospheric and oceanic conditions collectively reflect ENSO-neutral, they also reflect a clear evolution toward an El Niño state.

The model predictions of ENSO for this summer and beyond are indicating an increased likelihood of El Niño this year compared with last month. Most of the models indicate that ENSO-neutral (Niño-3.4 index between -0.5oC and 0.5oC) will persist through much of the remainder of the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014 (Fig. 6), with many models predicting the development of El Niño sometime during the summer or fall. Despite this greater model consensus, there remains considerable uncertainty as to when El Niño will develop and how strong it may become. This uncertainty is amplified by the inherently lower forecast skill of the models for forecasts made in the spring. While ENSO-neutral is favored for Northern Hemisphere spring, the chances of El Niño increase during the remainder of the year, and exceed 50% by the summer (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome).

This discussion is a consolidated effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA’s National Weather Service, and their funded institutions. Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). Forecasts for the evolution of El Niño/La Niña are updated monthly in the Forecast Forum section of CPC’s Climate Diagnostics Bulletin. The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 8 May 2014. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to: ncep.list.enso-update@noaa.gov.

Climate Prediction Center
National Centers for Environmental Prediction
NOAA/National Weather Service
College Park, MD 20740

Navy creates fuel from seawater

April 10th, 2014 at 1:34 pm by under Weather

Navy researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Materials Science and Technology Division, demonstrate proof-of-concept of novel NRL technologies developed for the recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) from seawater and conversion to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel.

Fuel From Sea Concept - First Demonstrated Flight

Flying a radio-controlled replica of the historic WWII P-51 Mustang red-tail aircraft—of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen—NRL researchers (l to r) Dr. Jeffrey Baldwin, Dr. Dennis Hardy, Dr. Heather Willauer, and Dr. David Drab (crouched), successfully demonstrate a novel liquid hydrocarbon fuel to power the aircraft’s unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine. The test provides proof-of-concept for an NRL developed process to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce hydrogen gas (H2) from seawater, subsequently catalytically converting the CO2 and H2 into fuel by a gas-to-liquids process.
(Photo: U.S. Naval Research LaboratoryFueled by a liquid hydrocarbon—a component of NRL’s novel gas-to-liquid (GTL) process that uses CO2 and H2 as feedstock—the research team demonstrated sustained flight of a radio-controlled (RC) P-51 replica of the legendary Red Tail Squadron, powered by an off-the-shelf (OTS) and unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine.

Using an innovative and proprietary NRL electrolytic cation exchange module (E-CEM), both dissolved and bound CO2 are removed from seawater at 92 percent efficiency by re-equilibrating carbonate and bicarbonate to CO2 and simultaneously producing H2. The gases are then converted to liquid hydrocarbons by a metal catalyst in a reactor system.

“In close collaboration with the Office of Naval Research P38 Naval Reserve program, NRL has developed a game changing technology for extracting, simultaneously, CO2 and H2 from seawater,” said Dr. Heather Willauer, NRL research chemist. “This is the first time technology of this nature has been demonstrated with the potential for transition, from the laboratory, to full-scale commercial implementation.”


Australian weather bureau: El Niño likely to develop by fall

April 9th, 2014 at 1:49 pm by under Weather

The following is from the Australian government’s Bureau of Meteorology. Remember, when they talk about “winter” it is actually summer here. And, recall that Texas typically receives above average rainfall during El Niño periods–welcome news as persistent drought continues.

It is now likely (estimated at a greater than 70% chance) that an El Niño will develop during the southern hemisphere winter. Although the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently neutral, surface and sub-surface ocean temperatures have warmed considerably in recent weeks, consistent with a state of rapid transition. International climate models surveyed by the Bureau indicate continued warming of the central Pacific Ocean in coming months. Most models predict sea surface temperatures will reach El Niño thresholds during the coming winter season.

El Niño is often, but not always, associated with below normal rainfall across large parts of southern and inland eastern Australia during the second half of the year. The strength of an El Niño does not always indicate how much it will influence Australian rainfall. Historically there are examples where weak events have resulted in widespread drought across large parts of Australia, while at other times strong events have resulted in relatively modest impacts. It is too early to determine the strength of this potential El Niño. Daytime temperatures tend to be above normal over southern Australia during El Niño.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is currently in a neutral state. Model outlooks indicate the IOD will remain neutral through late autumn and early winter. The chance of a positive IOD event occurring will increase if an El Niño develops.