September, 2011

Lake Michigan Waterspouts!

September 24th, 2011 at 11:49 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

This is one of many waterspouts seen on Lake Michigan from Green Bay to Chicago.  Check out this picture of at least TWO funnels up by North Manitou Island.  Check out the video here.  More pictures and info. here.  More NWS pictures, the story and links hereReuters picked up the story.  More pictures and video.  and still more pictures.   Here’s more on Great Lakes Waterspouts and a really cool picture of multiple funnels over Lake Huron in 1999.   In other news, my alma mater romped against mighty S. Dakota.   Brett Favre has a new gigWhat’s up with the Lakers?    Currently, Lake Superior is near its level of a year ago and Lake Michigan-Huron is 2 inches below last year’s level. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 6, 11, and 2 inches, respectively, higher than they were at this time last year.

Weekend Showers

September 24th, 2011 at 11:09 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Local Saturday night -  Scattered showers and even an isolated t-shower are again possible as the air “heats up” Sunday.  The showers should move from south to north with the upper low sitting SW of Chicago.     We have a fall weather pattern, with cool air and a few scattered light showers and sprinkles that will persist for days.    I’ll be downtown as we do the news and weather from the Art Museum for the duration of Art Prize.   Here’s radar and links: current Grand Rapids NWS radar, Regional Radar, GRR Zone Forecasts, lightning for our area and national lightning data. Here’s the latest visible satellite loop, current U.S. severe t-storm and tornado watches, current meso-discussions, and today’s storm reports from SPC. Here’s Storm total rainfall, Milwaukee radar, Chicago radar, current Michigan conditions, and the National warning/watch/advisory map. You can checkout the latest Grand Rapids NWS discussion, the Northern Indiana NWS discussion (includes the Michigan Counties that border Indiana), the discussion for Northern Lower Michigan, and Eastern Lower Michigan. Here’s a surface weather map, infrared satellite loop (day or nighttime). To report hail, strong winds or other severe weather to Storm Team 8, call 1-800-8WOODTV.

UARS satellite breaks up

September 24th, 2011 at 4:56 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

The UARS satellite (pic. from NASA) broke up and (mostly) burnt up in the Earth’s atmosphere.   NASA released a twitter message that said that the satellite broke up and came through the Earth’s atmosphere between 11:23 PM and 1:09 AM Friday night.  Twenty-six pieces were expected to survive reentry into the atmosphere and fall to Earth.  None of the pieces fell in the U.S.  They may have fallen in Canada, Africa or the oceans.    Note:  I’ll be down at Art Prize walking around Saturday midday and afternoon – say “hi” if you see me.   Saturday evening, I’ll be in Rockford:  “on Saturday, an exciting “Evening with the Stars” is planned, with Wood TV-8’s Chief Meteorologist Bill Steffen meeting the stargazers at 7:30 p.m. at the Rotary Pavilion and then leading them to Garden Club Park for the fun. Families are encouraged to bring their telescopes, Smart Phones and iPads for optimum viewing.”   Even if skies are cloudy, we’ll be talking a little about the moon, stars, planets – and a little weather, too.

Review: “Moneyball” is a winner

September 23rd, 2011 at 1:20 pm by under Entertainment

 ”Moneyball” is a great movie that hits a homerun – taking audiences on a journey that pits the little guys versus the big guys, its a underdog story that’s fun for everyone, but its a must-see for baseball fans … and its likely to become one of the most popular baseball movies in history.

Look for some Oscar buzz around the acting performance of Brad Pitt, the Directing of Bennett Miller, the writing of Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin, and the movie as a whole.

"Moneyball" poster courtesy Columbia Pictures

  (My spoiler-free review)

Much like “The Social Network”, the filmmakers took the business side of baseball and made it interesting for all audiences… and like other successful sports movies that appeal to both fans and general audiences, the focus is more about what happens off the field than on the field.

“Moneyball” takes us back to the end of the 2001 baseball season, when the Oakland A’s were in the American League Divison Series against the Yankees, it was a team with a payroll of $39 million versus a team with a payroll of $114 million.

I’m not giving much away by saying the A’s lost the series that wrapped up about a month after September 11th… when the Yankees almost seemed destined to move on after the events of September 11th.  But, the A’s lost more than the series, their season ended with a loss and they lost three of the best players on the team: Jason Giambi to the Yankees, Johnny Damon to the Boston Red Sox, and Jason Isringhausen to the St. Louis Cardinals.

While the movie doesn’t get bogged down in all the details of how the players were lost, it does just enough for fans and non-baseball fans to get the gravity of the situation that the Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) was put in during the offseason following the 2001 ALDS loss to the Yankees.

“Moneyball” gives us fans and non-fans an education of the game within the game of baseball… something we haven’t really seen much before… a focus on the general manager, the scouts, and the management side of baseball business.  Trade proposals, free agent signings, phone call with agents, and roster cuts might not seem like an interesting subject to all audiences, but woven into this story, they become fascinating details of Beane’s day-to-day struggle.

If you didn’t already know, the Oakland A’s are a small market team, meaning their payroll is traditionally one-third of big market teams… so Beane is handcuffed by an owner in a small market that is not willing to pay more money to be competitive.  Its this David versus Goliath mentality that draws the audience in… to start really caring about the business side of baseball… and be sympathetic of Beane.

Brad Pitt is great as Billy Beane, he creates a shrewd and charismatic character with many complicated layers as a former star prospect, a GM struggling to compete with a small payroll, and a father struggling to balance baseball career and his relationship with his 12 year old daughter.

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in "Moneyball" photo courtesy Columbia Pictures

Pitt is supported by Jonah Hill’s solid turn as Peter Brand, plus Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s quiet role as A’s manager Art Howe, Kerris Dorsey as his daughter Casey, the cantankerous group of scouts and player development team (Jack McGee, Vyto Ruginis, Nick Searcy, Glenn Morshower, etc), plus a good cast of actors and former players as baseball players, including Chris Pratt (as Scott Hatteberg) and Stephen Bishop (as David Justice).

The movie also signals a change in the business of building baseball teams as the older scouts push back against Beane’s plan – they are set in their old school ways of evaluating talent based on the player’s age, appearance, personality, and observed abilities.

Director Bennett Miller and writers Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin should be proud of their little movie and its $47 million budget… just a little more than the Oakland A’s had to play with in 2001… although, ironically, in the movie business they would be more of a medium budget team (the last two Oscar Best Picture winners – “The King’s Speech” and “The Hurt Locker” – had budgets under $20 million).

“Moneyball” wins by using baseball language to a point of being credible, without losing the non-fans … a good mix of re-created baseball scenes edited together with actual highlights and news footage plus the use of sound (elements on camera and off camera like announcers or fans reaction on sports radio)… and I give it big props for the non-use of sound (adding depth to a moment where everything goes quiet before everything gets loud again).   There are a lot of nice visual touches and dialogue to keep the story moving and baseball fans intrigued.  The emotions of the team’s losses and wins appeal to the emotions of the entire audience, not just baseball fans.


Autumnal Equinox

September 23rd, 2011 at 1:18 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

fall color <–Petosky (from Sharon Witters on POSTED). Today is the first day of astronomical Autumn. Fall officially arrived Wednesday at 5:04 AM  EDT. On the Autumn Equinox, the sun is directly overhead at solar noon over a line we call the Equator, which divides the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The word “Equinox” means “equal night” and every point on the globe has roughly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime (well, twilight and nighttime). Now, if you see the sunrise and sunset times for today, they don’t quite come out to 12 hours even. That’s because of two things. We don’t measure sunrise and sunset from the middle of the sun. Sunrise occurs when the first tip of the sun comes up over a totally flat horizon. Sunset is when the last tip of the sun disappears over a totally flat horizon. Also, light bends a tiny bit as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. So, we gain a couple minutes that way.   An overall cool pattern continues.   The GFS model this Friday AM doesn’t give G.R. a temperature warmer than 70 for the next two weeks.  I think that’s a little too cool, but we have certainly turned the page toward fall weather and most days over the next two weeks will have highs in the 60s.

ArtPrize – Here we go

September 21st, 2011 at 8:28 am by under Uncategorized

Whew! Kind of a whirlwind day today.

ArtPrize. Year 3. Day 1.

It’s also day one of our new ArtPrize studio at the GRAM. I was floored as soon as I heard about the project a couple of weeks ago. We toured the place yesteday. Here’s a photo gallery of construction and what it looks like now. Come on down to Rosa Parks Circle and say hi. We’ll be doing MOST newscasts from there over the course of the 19-day competition. I think there might be some concert issues for a couple days. I’ll keep you up to date.


I know there are many different ways to get to this blog. Here’s a link to the ArtPrize section on our website.


Cooler for the Rest of the Week

September 21st, 2011 at 4:22 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

9:15 PM  -  Cooler air is pushing in and that will hold temperatures in the low 60s for the next several days.  There are a few showers and sprinkles in Wisconsin that may rotate over our area Thurs. to Sat.   A closed upper low pressure center will move painfully slow across the area and we’ll have to keep a chance of isolated showers in the forecast through at least the weekend.  Any showers will be light and widely scattered.  The Japanese and European models clear the system out a little quicker than the GFS, which would give us a chance of showers into Monday AM.   We have a couple trees in nearly peak color at Rosa Park Circle.   The fall color change will be a day or two earlier than last year.

Winter Forecast Thoughts

September 20th, 2011 at 9:21 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

My official winter forecast usually comes out around the end of October, but I thought I’d throw out a few thoughts now.  First, you can see the latest Winter Forecast from the Climate Prediction Center.  It doesn’t look to bad to me. More on that later.    September 1-20 for Grand Rapids has been 1.1 degrees cooler than average.  We’ll be on the cool side from Thursday to Sunday and we’ll likely wind up the month a little below average, after four consecutive months of above average temperatures.  So far this month has been dry (0.61″ of rain for G.R. and only 3 of 20 days with measurable rain).   I think October will start a little warmer than average and we’ll get some good fall days in October with peak color around Oct. 10-17 in our area.  Then, I think at some point we turn cold and get significant snow in November (like 2005 and 2008).  We’re heading back to a La Nina for this winter (though not as strong as last winter).   Here’s global sea surface temperatures.   You can see the (blue) colder than average water along the Equatorial Pacific from South America westward.  There’s colder than average water around much of Alaska and around northwest Europe.  You can also see that the tropical storms have knocked down the water temperatures (through mixing cold water from below) north of Puerto Rico.   The cold water off the west coast of Mexico has reduced hurricane formation there.    Here’s La Nina effects.   What you see on that graphic is what we’ve had…heat and drought in the South, wet weather along the NW coast…active hurricane season in the Atlantic (not many hits on the U.S.) and inactive in the eastern Pacific…wet in Australia, drought in the Horn of Africa.  Here’s the CFS forecast, clearly showing the La Nina.  Here’s the Frontier Research Center…put in Dec.-Feb. and you’ll see it cold in the NW, warm in the SE (I think that maybe a bit overdone) and cool in Western Europe and China.     (more…)

ArtPrize Free Stuff

September 20th, 2011 at 7:27 am by under ArtPrize

Did I get your attention? It’s okay. I love free stuff, too.

ArtPrize organizers have scheduled five neighborhood ‘GO TIME!’ events – a mini-scavenger hunt for those who want free ArtPrize gear.

Here’s how it works:
- You meet at a specific location during each neighborhood event.
- The ArtPrize Street Team gives you a ‘passport’.
- You get it stamped at different venues.
- The first 100 to come back with finished passport get free ArtPrize stuff.

Each of the five neighborhoods have their own events starting Friday.

GO TIME! Events

Friday, September 23
Westside Neighborhood, 6-8:30 p.m.
Location: Parking lot at 620 Stocking Ave NW, Next to Compucraft

Saturday, September 24
Center City Neighborhood, 2-4:30 p.m.
Location: Rosa Parks Circle – Center of Monroe Ave and Monroe Center

Sunday, September 25
Hillside Neighborhood, 2-4:30 p.m.
Location: Veterans Park – Corner of Fulton and Sheldon

Monday, September 26
Heartside Neighborhood, 6-8:30 p.m.
Location: Ionia Ave SW, near Fulton

Tuesday, September 27
Monroe/North Belknap Neighborhood, 6-8:30 p.m.
Location: Sixth Street Park, 647 Monroe NW

“The go days is really our push to get people into the neighborhoods,” ArtPrize’s Brian Burch said. “It’s a starting point for you to explore that neighborhood.”

Last year ArtPrize organized five neighborhood parties with events like movies.

Burch says the goal is to get people out into the neighborhoods, instead of having people in one spot.

“That opens the doors to so much more of the neighborhood, not just this park or this parking lot or this particular venue,” Burch said.

Burch says each neighborhood has a unique personality.

“We have a beautiful downtown and it speaks wonders to people who come from outside,” Burch continued. “But there’s a lot more character than just the downtown, so we want to get that spread a little bit more.”


Beautiful Tuesday PM

September 19th, 2011 at 10:41 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

We were under a Dense Fog Advisory this AM – lots of school delays this AM.  The fog has lifted and we this will be a perfect PM with sunshine, blue sky and light south winds.  It’ll be one of the best days in the next couple of weeks, so get out and enjoy if you can.   A closed upper-level low pressure system is going to cut off across the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley for nearly a week, which will make for difficult forecast.  Little disturbances will touch off an occasional shower, and skies will be variable.  Temperatures beginning Thurs. will be slightly cooler than average in the daytime.  Friday early morning is the Equinox (5:04 AM).   Daylight shortens at it’s fastest clip around the Equinox, and we are losing about 3 minutes of daylight each day, and about 20 minutes per week.  The fall color change will be a day or two ahead of last year, about Oct. 10-18 in our area.   That will  Here’s current conditions throughout Michigan, including current visibility.