Wonderful World of Alabama Weather

As I headed out of the neighborhood this morning, I noticed a couple of really bright flashes in the east. Now, I leave at 6 a.m., and it was quite dark still. I wondered if it was the nearby searchlights at the Shelby County Airport, but it was brighter than that. I stopped at the intersection by the Shell station, about a stone's throw from the interstate, and began seeing amazing lightning, bright white horizontal plasma streaks against the dark gray, like someone had cracked open the sky with a ball peen hammer.

All the way up I-65, the lightning continued in a semicircle to the northwest, north and northeast. A few streaks dashed down to earth, but mostly they were tangled up like luminescent yarn across the horizontal. The streaks lit up a cloud layer that seemed to be moving toward the east, but no rain.

Until I started up the hill toward the Alford Ave. exit. Huge splats of rain bombarded my windshield, accompanied by thunder. Traffic slowed to that "OMG-it's-raining-slam-on-the-brakes-for-no-apparent-reason" speed on the way down the hill, and the rain intensified. Lakeshore Drive was attempting to revert to its pre-1908 state (when there was actually a lake there instead of just a creek), and I switched my wipers to full intensity.

For some reason, the rain usually slackens when I get to campus. For that I'm grateful. It's only a few yards from my car to the side door of Samford Hall, although it was still raining enough to require an umbrella.

Now I sit in my cozy office, listening to the thunder as the rain settles in for awhile. The bad stuff wasn't supposed to hit until this afternoon. This was just a nice surprise.

Weather Channel Sitcom

 This just absolutely made me LOL.

From the Onion:

New Weather Channel Sitcom About Three Guys, Three Girls, One Storm System

ATLANTA—Marking the network's first foray into episodic comedy, executives at the Weather Channel announced Monday that they are wrapping up production on a new series titled Batten The Hatches!, a sitcom about six professional twentysomethings and an unpredictable low pressure system named Arthur. “Get ready to laugh out loud when that incorrigible old Arthur soaks his buddy Dave right before his big date,” Weather Channel program director Michael Reardon said. “Just ask [the program's other characters] Rick, Tim, Dave, Dawn, Janie, and Lois: When you're best friends with a 125-mile-wide extratropical cyclone, anything can happen.” Batten The Hatches! is expected to greatly outperform C-Span's first original show, Out Of Session, a single-camera dramedy that follows the procedural mediation between the 535 members of Congress and their sexy roommate, Pamela Anderson.

[BTW, it is currently 64.6 degrees F in my office]

What a week

Ohhhh, boy. I hate weeks like this. Meetings every single day, mostly because the CMS Subgroup, of which I am chair, is meeting twice a week to meet our May 19 deadline for reporting on which content management system the university should choose. One of our members keeps getting stroppy, which sets me on edge. Mom's coming to visit tomorrow and Sunday (glee!), but that means cleaning. Massively. T has hurt his back, though, and can't help, so I'm looking forward to carting all the boxes from our recent single-handed attempt to jumpstart the economy from the breakfast area down to the garage. Sigh. I have three major redesigns that I'm juggling, one of which is Admission. And then come the two whoppers: storms and potential mayhem.

Yesterday the long-forecast storms hit right about the time I was leaving. It was thundering massively and the tornado sirens were going off, but when I passed J in the hall, she had just talked to S on the phone, who said the tornado was going north of us (in Homewood). That's what they always do. Only they didn't. By the time I got in the car and down Lakeshore Drive a bit, S called and said I should either turn around and go back to campus, or come to his house, because the tornado and storms were coming through Vestavia Hills and Homewood and Hoover. Great. So I opted (in the interest of my friends' and relations' peace of mind) to go to Scott's house. We sat and watched the weather until 4:30, at which time he deemed it safe for me to travel. I really appreciated him letting me hang out there, but it lost me the afternoon of cleaning. Took me an hour to get home.

This morning, as I was getting ready, my phone buzzed at 5:35 a.m. with an alert that

A suspicious person with a weapon is on campus. Remain in your dorm until ALL CLEAR. THIS IS NOT A TEST

Huh. Okay. I figured it would over by the time I got to work. Then, at 6:13 while I was driving to campus, my supervisor Philip called and said the campus was in lockdown and that I should meet him in the parking lot, where we would talk about what to do, as he was nearly behind me. The campus security officers were stopping everyone and directing us to the south stadium lot. Sure enough, Philip was there. We got into his SUV, spoke with Officer Judy, and got permission to go to Samford Hall so I could post the story to the web. Kinda weird being locked in, not only to the building but to the PR office suite as well. I logged into the CMS so Philip could compose the story as we knew it. He got called back to the south stadium lot, leaving me locked in alone (at my insistence that I'd be fine). He called later and sent a man from the Purchasing Dept., whose office is on our floor, to be another presence in the building. By 7:30 we got the all clear. The consensus seems to be that the suspicious person immediately ran off campus, so there wasn't any danger really, but the university's emergency plan worked quite well. The great thing is, I could go on with my work as if it were a normal day. I hate wasting time in the morning!

Tornadoes I Have Known

 I feel I have been challenged. Scott said I never post anything here that he doesn't already know. Spurred by that remark and inspired by the bad weather early this morning, here is a list of tornadoes in Madison County during the years I lived there. 

Yeah, tornadoes. I know, it's weird. But tornadoes have been formative experiences in my life. Many of my most vivid childhood memories involve the weather. I was a weather junkie from an early age. During one of my weather kicks when I was maybe 12, I determined, on the basis of the barometric pressure, wind speed, etc. that it would rain later that day. At the time, the sun was shining. I told my brother and his friend Chris Grant about it and they scoffed. Later that day, it did indeed rain, and they were appropriately impressed by my forecasting prowess.

One of my most cherished possessions is the massive (now out of print) tome compiled by the Tornado Project entitled Significant Tornadoes–1680-1991 by Thomas P. Grazulis. It weighs 8 lbs, according to the website, and contains 1340 pages. From that I will begin compiling a narrative of the ones I remember most from childhood.

I obtained a raw list from the Tornado Project website and have at least the dates here. For now I'll stick to the ones in the 60s and 70s, of which there were 18 listed in Madison county. 

June 6, 1961, 3 p.m., F1, 0 dead, 0 injured
March 11, 1963, 5:40 p.m., F2, 0 dead, 0 injured
November 24, 1967, 1:05 p.m., F2, 0 dead, 7 injured
December 18, 1967, 3:25 a.m., F2, 0 dead, 27 injured
December 21, 1967, 7:30 p.m., F1, 0 dead, 1 injured
April 24, 1970, 6:30 a.m., F2, 0 dead, 0 injured
May 19, 1973, 2:40 p.m., F2, 0 dead, 10 injured
November 27, 1973, 6:33 p.m., F3, 0 dead, 42 injured
April 1, 1974, 9:40 p.m., F3, 1 dead, 6 injured
*April 3, 1974, 6:15 p.m., F5, 9 dead, 110 injured
*April 3, 1974, 7 p.m., F5, 5 dead, 110 injured
*April 3, 1974, 9:35 p.m., F3, 2 dead, 3 injured
March 20, 1976, 10:08 p.m., F1, 0 dead, 0 injured
March 20, 1976, 10:22 p.m., F2, 0 dead, 0 injured
March 20, 1976, 10:25 p.m., F0, 0 dead, 0 injured
July 17, 1977, 1:45 p.m., F2, 0 dead, 0 injured

The starred entries are the major storms (up until the more recent huge one on November 15, 1989). More to come.

Way too cold

Twenty-seven degrees is not appropriate for February in Alabama. Well, it's typical, I suppose, but not appropriate. The sun's out, though, and the horrific winds of yesterday have ceased. I'm thankful for small things. 

My new character, Ka-Quindath, is finally statted out. I've been working on painting his mini as well. I've made his kilt red and his scarf orange, to reflect his fire template. I'm tempted to make it patterned, but I'm not sure if I have the time. Making his spell cards is taking for-freakin'-ever. I really like the blank cards template from The Other Game Company, but I have to type in every single one, since there's not a resource for Arcana Evolved or Unearthed spells. Yes, I'm obsessive. Met me?

I have been worrying over what it means to have an 18 Charisma, as Mordecai, my warlock character does. Since Giuliana's out of the picture now, he's the one whose personality I'm analyzing. I've got him in mind as a very young (17), unsure of himself young man (er, glimmerfolk). But now it's likely he'll be the party's Face. I took Beguiling Influence this level, the invocation that gives you +6 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate. I think an 18 Charisma means you're an extreme one way or the other. I don't think he's the bright shiny type, like Rafael was. I decided he's seriously intense (or intensely serious). He expects people won't accept him, as that's his experience in the past. We'll see how it plays out. So far we haven't had as much chance for roleplaying.