Chapter News
May 2008


May/June 2008

The most recent meeting of the TVAMS was held at the National Space Science and Technology Center, located at the University of Alabama – Huntsville, on May 28. After a pizza party, elections started off the evening for a new slate of officers followed

by an excellent presentation by newly minted doctor, Tim Coleman. Officers for the 2008/2009 year are Wayne Mackenzie, promoted to president; Dennis Buechler, vice president; B.J. Barbare, treasurer; and Dan Schmit, continuing as secretary.

Dr. Tim Coleman proceeded to give his presentation on “1883 Holden Tornado Warning System and Today’s Application.” In a short summary the interesting talk gave a brief history of the weather service, as started by the Army Signal Corps. Some type of  warning was started in 1882, using about 1000 spotters. Finley was the first to recognize tornado patterns which allowed for “tornado alerts” later to become watch boxes.

Tims program also outlined a warning system proposed by Holden, which involved ideas that are still used in some respect, today. The “modern” method of tornado warnings include, power transmission line lockouts, NOAA WxRadio, and outdoor sirens. The “old,antique” methods proposed by Holden included a telegraph wire surrounding a town(around 2-2.5 miles), connected to a series of alarm bells in each home.  The wire could also be rigged to fire a cannon.  The theory relied on constant current applied along the line, which if interrupted would activate the various alarms and fire the cannon.  The wire would be designed to break at a 70mph wind, and in theory save lives. The system however was never implemented due to resistance by the Signal Corps, who preferred to rely on spotters, and never did like a warning format.

Dr. Coleman allowed for questions, and comments by the local EMS and NWS personnel were quite interesting and rounded out the program well.  The meeting was then adjourned, as we look forward to a long HOT, dry summer here in the Southeast.---Daniel Schmit.



Meeting Type: General Assembly

Meeting Date: May 1, 2008

Attendance: 16

Meeting in Session: 6:06 pm


Introduction (President Jim Kurdzo)

Final Remarks (President Jim Kurdzo)



“George Taylor…Celebrating a Career”

This dinner meeting on May 4th, 2008, at the Old Spaghetti Factory in southeast Portland, had over 50 attendees.  Our guest of honor was George Taylor, former State of Oregon Climatologist, who just retired after 19 years of service at Oregon State University.  George was involved with many projects, such as PRISM (a GIS climate mapping project), as well as basic data requests for the public.  In recent years, George’s work on the Natural Cycle theory to explain climate change was courageous, given that many scientists subscribe to the Greenhouse Gas theory.  Several members used an open microphone to share stories about George. 


Then George rose to speak and entertained the crowd with a slide show and his famous El Nino song and guitar performance.  At the end, President Kyle Dittmer and Vice-President Pete Parsons presented a full Pendleton blanket, with a Navajo Storm pattern, as a fitting gift to George.  This blanket, usually reserved for Native American elders, was our way to honor Oregon’s “elder” of the weather community.  A detailed slide show of the dinner from Phil Pasteris can be found on the chapter website: Dittmer.



Meeting Minutes

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Called to order by President J.D. McAlpine at 5:31 pm.

Meeting began with eating and visiting, talking about weather and such.

Weather Discussion:  Weather discussion was substituted by an earthquake discussion, given our current situation.  Unfortunately the intensity has died down, so there was no discussion.

Guest Speaker:  Ramona Hull came and spoke about smoke jumping.  Abstract:  A smokejumper’s duty is to parachute into the vicinity of remote wildfires.  Their job is to utilize the resources available and prevent the fire from becoming a serious threat to the natural environment.  She covered the basic ideas behind firefighting and the process of smoke jumping start to finish. 

Chapter Business:

Meeting adjourned at 6:51pm.---Patrick Joyce.



The May meeting of the Smoky Mountain Chapter was held on the 19th. Around 12 people first met for dinner at "Calhoun’s on the River" in Knoxville. Afterwards, around 20 people met for the meeting on the University of Tennessee Ag campus to hear our speaker: Robert N. Compton of the Department of Physics and Chemistry at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Compton's talk was entitled "The Changing Earth’s Atmosphere" and the following was a synopsis:

"The atmosphere surrounding the Earth has always been in a state of change. Presently, the air that we breathe is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.93% argon and 0.0383% carbon dioxide plus a number of other trace gases along with the changing water vapor. The concentration of carbon dioxide is ~ 383 parts per million by volume. Of great concern is the well documented fact that the concentration of CO2 has been rising and, aside from seasonal variations, this increase is well correlated with the introduction of man made sources of CO2 (burning of coal, combustion, etc.). The temperature of the Earth is established by a delicate balance between heat from the Earth’s crust (radioactivity), radiation from the Sun and re-radiation from the Earth’s surface to the surrounding Universe. Clouds and aerosols also play a major role in the radiation balance. Carbon dioxide and other infrared absorbing gases in the atmosphere trap some of the heat being re-radiated out into space. The analogy to a Greenhouse has given the name Greenhouse Gases to these trace gases. There is gathering data to suggest that the Earth is warming on average and this Global Warming has been attributed in part to the increase in Greenhouse Gases. The ever-present water vapor in the atmosphere is the largest contributor to the Green House gases. The Earth acts much like the human body in which a “fever” of a few degrees can be a life threatening situation. Phase changes (e.g., ice to water) can take place within small temperature changes. Many fear that the Earth may experience a “heat stroke” due to Global Warming. This talk will attempt to discuss some of the science in the debate over Global Warming. In so doing, we will also take note of the changing pH of the oceans which some attribute to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A large part of the discussion on atmospheric composition and radiative energy balance (i.e., Earth’s temperature) will be based upon measurements by the Compton group, particularly Dr. Stuart Hager, Ms. Maria Olivaris and Dr. Jeff Steill, at the University of Tennessee. We have been carrying out infrared absorption spectroscopy measurements using the Sun as the IR light source. Tracking the IR absorption as the Sun rises over the Smoky Mountains and sets over the Bull Run and Kingston Steam Plants."---David Gaffin.



The May 2008 meeting of the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Meteorological society was held on May 20, 2008, at the Twin Cities WFO.   A picnic outside the office soon turned into a picnic inside the office.  President Chris Bovitz and vice president Lisa Schmit were in attendance; seven others were present

The meeting revolved mainly around discussions of the activities of the previous year.  Generally, it was viewed as positive by the attendees, but there could've been more that was done, such as a "big" speaker.  Bovitz agreed that could've been done.  Talk turned to what to do next year.

Elections were held.  First, Bovitz thanked Kurt Scholz (in attendance) and his wife for their work on the Chapter newsletter.  The results:
    Newsletter Editor: Karen Trammell
    Secretary/Treasurer:  Bryan Howell
    Vice President:  Lisa Schmit
    President:  Chris Bovitz

Bovitz then talked about some ideas he has for next year.  He will get a big-name speaker, possibly piggy-backing on the Skywarn Workshop speaker.  He talked about a possible theme for next years speakers.

It was mentioned that Dave Johnson from Metro Skywarn approached Bovitz about a partnership between the two groups.  While Bovitz (and the rest of the group) don't feel a partnership arrangement is in the Chapter's best interest right now, perhaps we could have a liason with them, someone from our group who interacts with them and can find times and events in which we can work together.  Then Bovitz offered we could have liasons with other related groups, such as with the media or the government.  The Chapter could be a clearinghouse, or a central place for interaction among the different weather groups in and around the Twin Cities.  We will ask for volunteers to keep the Chapter updated as to the activities of these other groups, and vice versa.

The meeting broke up about 7:45.---Chris Bovitz.



Monthly Meeting

We had our monthly meeting on May 6th at 10:50 am. A total of 33 people attended. Officer elections were held and the results were as follows:

The meeting concluded at 11:55 am.

Weather Today

On May 16th we visited the NWS San Juan Forecast Office. The Meteorologist-In-Charge (MIC) Israel Matos, and the forecaster Ernesto Morales talked about work opportunities at the NWS. The meteorologist intern Felix Castro, showed some of the equipment at the office. In addition, we observed the launching of the radio sounding balloon.---Idamis Del Valle.



On May 1, 2008 the following chapter officers were reelected without opposition:

Andrew Ross - President

Warren Glover - Vice President/Secretary

Debby Sibillio - Treasurer

The chapter gained a few new members, mostly from the Geography Department at our host meeting site, State University College of New York at Buffalo. I have designated Mr. Glover as the monthly program coordinator. Attendance averages 15 to 20 people per month. Most are Skywarned Trained and serve as snow spotters in a local NWS program. I represented the AMS as a judge at the Niagara Regional Science & Engineering Fair, held at Brock University, St. Catharines ON Canada on March 29, 2008 concurrently as a retired U.S. Army officer, I represent the U.S. Army. The winner, in both AMS & U.S. Army award is Matthew Thiffault, Grade 12, Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, St. Catharines ON Canada. His project is "Weather Observation UAV".

It is a remotely piloted aircraft equipped with weather sensors of temperature, humidity & pressure that can fly at altitudes up to 900'. The mission is to provide a thermal profile above a prime grape producing agricultural district. In other modes outside o meteorology, this type of aircraft already is being used in law enforcement and military missions.---Andrew D. Ross.



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