First: here is another review of the weak tornadoes that occurred on Tuesday of this week, NWS Green Bay webpage. Our very own Megan Syner went out and surveyed the damage in northern Marathon county and found a few trees knocked down. Here is one of the pictures:
Earlier this week I was talking about some 90 degree heat. It still looks like 90 is possible but a little later than first expected. At one point it looked like the "hot and muggy" was arriving on Saturday, now it looks like it might hold off until Monday. The wind will remain out of the west or northwest until then and that means relatively low humidity from today through Saturday. Temps will be in the comfortable low to mid 80s range today and tomorrow, then rise into the mid to upper 80s on Saturday and Sunday. I would be forecasting 90 or greater as early as Sunday but it looks like there will be a chance of thunderstorms on Sunday and that could put a lid on the temperature rise. If Monday turns out as expected, it could be the warmest day of the year and the first 90 degree day of the year for Wausau. The heat index could be close to 100 in the southern part of the area. The good news is that the heat will not last too long. A cold front moving in from the north late Monday will produce a chance of thunderstorms and reduce the temps a bit by Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. With such high heat and humidity, there will likely be a good chance of severe weather on Sunday, Monday, and maybe lingering into Tuesday.
When the high price of oil and gas first hit after hurricane Katrina in 2005 I told my wife that I was not going to pay $3.00 a gallon for gas. I bought a bicycle and have been saving about 30 bucks a month in gas costs ever since. Over the last year or two, I have seen a lot more bicycles and mopeds on the the road. There are even a couple people driving electric cars in Northcentral Wisconsin. Even the people who wasted a couple years complaining and encouraging politicians to sue oil companies (a completely worthless activity that will do more harm than good), are now finally doing what they should have in the beginning – driving less! Not only that, more people are using public transportation – such as buses. An interesting thing about the bus story, check out this quote:
Bus-based public transit has been hit especially hard by the sharp rise in diesel fuel costs. This has kept static the supply of hard plastic bus seats, while demand grows like the ear hair of the guy sitting next to you on the cross-town express. "High gas prices are really a double-edge sword," Virginia Miller, spokeswoman for the American Public Transportation Association, told The Christian Science Monitor. "While they are bringing more people to ride buses and trains all across the country, public transit agencies are facing challenges to meet their costs."
That has some systems raising fares or cutting service. Nearly half of the metro bus operators the association surveyed have increased fares. Nearly one in five have reduced service.
When demand goes up and the supply is limited, it is natural for the price (fares) to go up. If the price of fuel goes up, it is natural for fares to go up. What about reducing service? If you were in this situation, and your business was booming from increased demand, what would you do? What would Apple do if everyone wanted a Mac and were willing to pay a higher price? If you said – make more computers go the the head of the class. You get a gold star! If you owned an airline and you didn’t have enough seats/planes to go around because there was so much demand for your service, what would you do? If you answered add more planes to your fleet, go to the head of the class. What does a public transportation system do? Cut back service. According to the article above 1 in 5 metro bus services have cut back service! Just when the public is demanding more access to bus services, just when the public needs more bus service, the public system fails. Leave to government to shut down bus service just when people need it the most.
On a more positive note, solar power production is increasing in the U.S. Some people have speculated that solar power is following Moore’s law and will become much cheaper in the next few years. Others have said that there are many hurdles solar power is not following Moore’s law and we will not see a rapid reduction in cost over the next few years. It seems much of the speculation revolves around whether thin-film solar will become the dominant form of photovoltaic.
One of the other types of alternative energy that I am keeping an eye on is tidal power. This has been around for quite a while but has not made a "big splash" (pun intended). Marine Current Technologies has just connected the world’s first tidal power generator to the grid in Northern Ireland. Call me skeptical but most of these tidal power generators have not panned out. The problem stems from the ocean being such a harsh and corrosive environment. There are also a lot of living things that like to congregate on structures in the ocean and these cause problems as well. I wish MCT the best of luck but the track record for tidal power is not superb.
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This post was written by jloew on July 31, 2008