Our family made a trip to W.W.R. on what turned out to be a beautiful Saturday. All the regular subjects were there, but a first for me also - the explosion of wildflowers. It looks like the refuge took advantage of some recent heavy rain and was really kicking out the color.
The 3rd Annual Ewoldt House of Horror went off without a hitch last night. In the end, the weather couldn’t have been better. Seven to 10 days ago, it appeared that we would be playing around with a couple of weather systems that could have presented us with cool and wet conditions. We should have known better in a year where we have the chance to be the driest on record, precipitation was not very likely. So, we had light winds, clear skies, and temperatures that fell into the 50′s by showtime. We had a record 17 people in costume, and while we don’t exactly count our guests, we likely had a record number of them too. Shoving us over was a last batch of Kingfisher High School students that came through last.
Now it’s time to tear it all down and start to winterize the backyard. Tear down is always easier than building, and it will all be tucked away by this evening. By Noon today, you already couldn’t tell that a haunted house was in place 12 hours earlier. Clean up is being made easy by very nice weather, in fact, almost too nice as it is getting warm in the building. Summer like conditions that returned to Oklahoma in October are making an appearance here in early November and it looks like we will flirt with record high temperatures today and tomorrow. A couple of weak cold fronts will start making their way through this weekend and next week, but these are only expected to bring our temperatures back to near normal with little or no precipitation.
Remodel Phase One… has started at the Ewoldt household. This is sort of a jump start on a whole slew of things to come over the next year or so. We are currently taking an extra room and joining it with our daughter’s bedroom to give her the room she will need as she approaches high school/university. In several steps, we will be putting down new flooring, remodeling the kitchen, office, master bedroom, adding driveway, landscape, replacing doors, roof, heat/air….basically, the full monty. But for now, I wade through a mix of furniture, clothes, and whatever else can be piled in the office to get to the computer for weather information…. as we know, the show must go on.
And what a show it was. After a morning low of 63 degrees, the high temperature reached 90 degrees on the 21st. This not only broke the old record of 89 degrees set in 2004, but marks the latest in the year we have ever hit 90 degrees. In addition, the low of 63 degrees was the warmest low temperature on the date… breaking the old record of 61 degrees set in 2001.
Sitting outside this evening looking for a rogue Orionid meteor was very comfortable in short sleeves with a temperature in the mid 70′s.
Well, the dew point is currently 46 degrees! That’s one thing. This will be the third out of four days straight that we haven’t hit 100 degrees! In fact, yesterday morning – the low temperature of 64 degrees set a record for the date. The previous lowest was 65 degrees set in 2009. We also set a record this morning when the temperature dropped to 60 degrees. The previous record was 62 degrees set in 2004.
It was interesting going outside this morning at 4 a.m. to observe Perseid meteors. I had my camera, tripod, clean flash card, charged battery, pants, shirt, and a light blanket. What a minute – what was that last one?!? Yes, when your body has accepted highs of 114, midnight temperatures in the mid 90′s and lows in the 80′s… 60 degrees can feel cool! The show wasn’t too bad with rates of about one every two minutes. About what you would expect the day before the peak. I will be monitoring cloud cover today closely and try to decide where the best place will be to set up for tonight’s peak. Storms over the high Plains are likely to spread a bit of clouds eastward into the viewing area, so it may take some driving to hit clear spots.
Back to the temperature. The average temperature yesterday came in four degrees below normal. This broke a string of 23 straight days where the temperature was at or above normal.
We took advantage of the cool morning and put about three hours into garden work which had basically been put on hold when the heat wave took over. We are down to only one tomato plant and six pepper plants that are producing and have cleared things out. We pampered the rest of the garden plants and it’s not looking too bad right now.
We are really starting to shave light off the day now. At the start of the month, sunrise was 6:40 a.m. – by the end of the month it will be 7:03 a.m. Sunset at the start of the month was 8:37 p.m. – and by the end of the month it will be 8:01 p.m. I spoke of this last year, but those that know me understand the fact that I don’t like seeing morning sun. Just puts me in a bad mood. I especially hate it when driving to work. I usually get there about 6:40 a.m. Now that the sun is not rising until past this time – not only do I not have to deal with that for the rest of the year… but the rest of my career! I hope the next sunrise I get to see will be the first day of my retirement.
While the rain deficit continues, there are signs that spotty chances will be making a return to the state. The upper-level high pressure that was responsible for the extreme heat is taking up a spot over the southwest U.S. and a couple or three systems will be dragging through the Plains. Each will bring a front into the state and the chance of thunderstorms into the middle of the month. See – plenty of things to smile about
Below is a capture of an impressive Perseid taken this morning not long before sunrise.
Happy Birthday Dad!
No chasing today. The models have been bouncing around a lot lately, but are showing signs of life this week. Tomorrow may actually turn into a pretty good day near the Kansas/Nebraska border as deep low pressure develops near the Kansas/Colorado border. Also, there are signs that the central Plains may become active in the Friday/Saturday time frame. I will wait until about 10 pm tonight to decide whether or not to pull the trigger on tomorrow. Logistically, what needs to be considered, is it worth going out tomorrow and staying out through Saturday – or overnight tomorrow and return home with a quick turnaround for the weekend - or just wait for the weekend. There is still the possibility that none of these will work out to warrant getting out the door.
I have put together a webpage at http://www.okweatherwatch.com/2012/051912.html
which shows an overview of several of the things that happened from the afternoon of the 19th to the early morning hours of the 21st.
Portions of Cimarron, Texas and Beaver Counties of the panhandle are the only places in Oklahoma which will see a white Christmas this year – due to left-over snow from the blizzard which occurred on the 19th and 20th. It looks like there will be another couple of days before the snow melts completely away.
The Ewoldt House of Horror (2nd annual) went off without a hitch. Despite some weak advertising, and a lot of word of mouth… it just seems like we are having a hard time breaking the 60 visitor barrier which was similar to last year. It is what it is however, and what it was – was a fun time for all involved. Make no bones about it, there were a number of people that didn’t come by this year because they said last year was “too scary”. We did see some new faces that liked the show we put on and expect to see them back next year. Our set this year was much more elaborate than 2010 and was a blast.
I will eventually get a lot of photos up on a pbase page, but for now will leave you with this one. It means a lot to me. You see, we are living in an age when photos like this are a part of our regular society. I could have had this one on facebook in a matter of minutes.
I’m saddened by this photo as much as I love it. I could have taken many like it back in the 80′s and 90′s, but the technology wasn’t quite there yet. No camera phones, no DSLR cameras, no facebook or other instant media source. You just occasionally shot with film and hoped that you would get something worthwhile. Usually you didn’t. I’m saddened by the number of times I missed photos like this while I was racing, working with the fire department, fishing, storm chasing, hanging out, whatever.
In 1986, I went to an Oklahoma/Nebraska football game in Lincoln with my good friend Kenneth. We were not expected to win the game and found ourselves down 17-10 with not much time left in the 4th quarter. The first miracle happened when we managed to tie the game at 17, and the second miracle had us kicking a field goal to win 20-17 as time expired. We ran down to the field, but I wasn’t about to jump the fence because I thought we would get arrested or something. Kenneth – who was a lot bigger than I – bailed over and grabbed me, lifting me up over the fence. Not knowing really what to do, we just ran around in the excitement of the win. Then I turned head first into Anthony Phillips – OU guard – 6’3″ – 280 lbs. I guess that he was in need of someone to celebrate with as well and grabbed me and threw me around in a complete circle/hug. How about that for a facebook moment – that didn’t exist. We jogged off the field with the team until they wouldn’t let us go any farther and the rest was history.
My story jumps to a scene from “Dead Poets Society”. One of my favorite Robin Williams films. He takes his first class out into the hallway to point out all the pictures on the walls…. football players, various groups of people that are all in black and white photography and probably date to the early 1900′s. At first he tells them that they are no different – look into their eyes – full of ambition – ready to change the world. Then reminds them that they are all worm food. Pushing up daisies. Dead. Gone.
Carpe diem – seize the day he whispers.
My wife said something to me the other day that was both beautiful and sad. As we were enjoying some time on the couch – she mentioned that she would like to spend forever with me. After a pause, she added, but their not going to let me do that. I said no, I don’t think that’s how it works.
So, we come up on our Ewoldt House of Horror – 2nd edition. It was important to me to catch all the players after the game was finished. All the smiles, all the hopes, all the ambition – myself, Jocelyn, Mari, Mike, Jackie, Betsy, Andie, Shan, Cody, Jim, Eric, Jake and Billy. World by the tail. It would be nice to see the 40th annual Ewoldt House of Horror, but the reality is that someone – sometime – will look at that picture and realize that they are the only one that hasn’t become worm food.
I’m so happy that I caught the picture – one that I might not have 20 years ago. As our guests left, there was a lot of talk about next year, but there are no guarantees. Enjoy your friends, play golf, have a few drinks, watch a football game or put together a haunted house. Carpe diem….
It’s a go! The 2nd Annual Ewoldt House of Horror has been under construction since October 1st. Most of the structural part of the set is completed and we will spend the remaining days working on costumes – lighting – visual and sound – coverings – pumpkin carving – etc… but we have no reason to believe that we won’t be ready to open Halloween evening. Besides our own fun of putting a little fright into the evening – we want kids to earn their candy. It comes at the end… no walking up to the door for a handout!
We have 12 people at the various 9 “scare” spots.
Weather was a worry this year. Last year, we put the entire set inside the barn out back. This year, we expanded to have about half of it outside. The drought has created quite a bit of bare ground which would be mud if it rained on us, but the latest guidance points toward a lot of sunshine leading up to the day with temperatures in the 70′s.
The photos included show some of the construction – but I will leave the details out
For reference of the pumpkins – the Golden Retriever (King) laying next to them weighs about 85 pounds! One of our pumpkins weighed in at 61 pounds.
Plenty of candy for the kids – and the bar will be open for the adults. Snacks – including Shan’s famous meatballs will be at the ready.
For a rundown of last year: http://www.pbase.com/okweatherwatch/ehh
This year we may shut down the Union Pacific that runs behind the house….
I usually try to stick to a weather subject when I write in my blog. There are times I may stray with various family or garden or home items – but usually, it goes back to weather somewhere.
It is with regret that I talk about the passing of my friend – Bobby Ray Jennings “Bob”. Bob passed away on June 25 at the age of 72 years old. He was born in Heavener, Oklahoma and graduated from Howe High School. He worked most of his life in Oklahoma City – which included a complete career with the Oklahoma City Fire Department.
Bob lost an eye in a hunting accident while he was on the job and got assigned to the fire dispatch office where I worked with him for several years until his retirement. He had a sense of humor as dry as my dads and you never knew what he was going to say, or how he was going to say it. It was always a fun time working with Bob.
I will never forget the first time that he found out I was a storm chaser. “What in the world would make you go near one of those things?” I then found out that his dad was killed by a tornado at Howe, Oklahoma on May 5, 1961. Bob was working in Oklahoma City at the time and received the call saying that the family had been hit by the storm. To this day, he is the only person I have ever known (friend or otherwise) that has ever had a family member killed by a tornado.
The entry in Thomas P. Grazulis, “Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991″ is a simple one:
520 p.m. – 16 killed – 58 injured – 500 yards wide – 30 miles long – F4
Moved northeast from 1 mile south of Talihina to Reichert and Howe. Twelve people were killed at Howe, as houses were leveled. Four Deaths occurred at Reichert. A total of 70 homes were destroyed.
Bob and I never talked about the event very much. I didn’t want to dig up anything – and he never offered. Fair enough.
Then came April 19, 1995. A fucking nut-job and his friends decided to blow up a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. Bob had retired before this but was in our office during the few hours after the event. I caught up with him as he stared out the window toward the gathering of rescue workers that assembled in front of our building just blocks away from the Murrah bombing site. You could tell that something was weighing heavily on his mind – other than the fact that this happened in his hometown. He told me that the rush, confusion, and people scattering reminded him of just what he saw when he returned to Howe the evening that his father was killed.
In a weird way, it’s probably the closest I have come to feeling like someone that has lost a relative to a tornado.
Bob left the job to enjoy his retired life and I have continued on working in fire dispatch and enjoying my hobby as a storm chaser. I have always contributed my observations, reports, video, photos and anything else I can provide to the National Weather Service and various researchers with the hope that some of it helps toward the warning process.
In this day in age where warning and information dissemination is as good as it’s ever been – I almost take it personally when people get killed by tornadoes. No doubt, some of this goes back to Bob.
Bob Jennings – everyone should have had the chance to know him… rest in peace my friend.
The Kingfisher Fire Chief took away our ability to shoot off fireworks this year. Now I know Randy (I’m not with his department, so I can call him Randy instead of Chief) – and he has to keep the public safety in mind – but come on bud. Off and on showers for several days across the county, winds were not – and are not – forecast to be above 10 mph… and there wasn’t enough early season rain to grow anything to burn anyway. Oh well, with drought and heat being the top subject these days… We rolled to a friends house in Kingfisher where we had our own little / kind of by the rules (we didn’t shoot anything big) / fireworks show before the City of Kingfisher show in the park. We had a nice hilltop view of the display with warm but nice weather, and a pretty waxing crescent moon hanging over the western sky. The wife, daughter and good friends… it was a fun 4th anyway.