March 2009 is over-with and it went out like a lion. It was also below normal, making it the 15th out of the last 17 months that have been at or below normal (11 below normal and 4 right at normal). I consider months that are less than .50 degree above or below normal to be “right at normal”. Only 2 months during that time span have been more than a half degree above normal, those were January 2008, andSeptember 2008. March of 2009 was about 1 degree below normal. It was an odd month in that total precipitation was above normal but snowfall was well below normal. March can sometimes be a very snowy month, but this year we ended up with more rain than snow. We ended up with one record and that was a record rainfall of 1.12 inches on March 24th. The best news of the month is that precipitation was above normal by a half inch. Hopefully this trend will continue through the Spring and Summer and end the severe drought we are experiencing. Here are the preliminary stats:
- Average High: 38.3 (normal: 39.8)
- Average Low: 19.8 (normal: 20.5)
- Total Precipitation: 2.44″ (normal: 1.92″)
- Snowfall: 2.5″ (normal: 10.7″)
- Highest Temperature: 62 on the 17th
- Lowest Temperature: -15 on the 2nd
Looking ahead into April, I can’t guarantee above normal precipitation, sorry. It does look like below normal temps will continue through the middle of the month, again, sorry. High temps will be in the upper 30s with cloudy skies, gusty winds, and light rain and snow showers. We will experience a bit more sunshine over the next 3 days so temps should warm up, from the low 40s on Thursday, into the mid 40s Friday, andupper 40s on Saturday. The warmer trend will come to an end on Sunday and Monday as another big storm moves into the Midwest. High temps will drop back into the 30s. Heavy snow andrain is possible with this storm. Right now it looks like the most likely spot for the heavy precipitation will be in the southern half of the state, south of Marathon county. Our team of Storm Trak9 meteorologists will keep you up to date withany changes withthis storm as it will have a significant impact on any late weekend travel plans.
Alternative Energy News:
Here are a couple stories I did not have time to add yesterday. It looks like the Obama administration is going to kill the Chevy Volt. It has to do withthe fact that they do not think the car will be profitable. This is something I touched on yesterday. The projected cost of the Volt will be within a few thousand of the more expensive Tesla Model S. People who can afford a Volt might upgrade to the Model S. Still, if GM is not going to produce the Volt, what will they do to make money? Sell more Hummers? Trucks? Hybrids and electrics are the future. Maybe the government could offer a bigger rebate for purchasing the Volt.
How will you charge up your hybrid or electric car? How about a solar carport.
How about a wind powered car? Not too realistic for most driving conditions but they can really fly. The world speed record for a wind-powered car was recently broken. British engineer Richard Jenkins set the record by hitting 126.1 mph. Now you might be thinking – was the wind blowing at 126 mph? Otherwise how could the car move so fast. It is powered by a rigid sail that acts like an airplane wing (albeit a vertical one in this case). The configuration of the “sail” allows the car to achieve speeds 3 to 5 times higher than the wind speed. Pretty cool.
In the world of AGW, coal power plants that capture and store carbon dioxide are gaining some interest. One such project in the U.S., FutureGen, was put on hold last year because of cost overruns, but it might now be revived. If we are going to accept the AGW greenhouse gas theory, then carbon capture andstorage (CCS) is probably a good idea, since coal is so plentiful. However, CCS takes more energy to work. To me, it just seems to be self-defeating to burn more coal in order to store carbon dioxide under ground. We might as well use that energy to produce more solar andwind components and put them to work.
Some interesting events in space recently. The human population in space is currently at a record 13 people. That doesn’t sound like much but it is interesting to dwell upon. As the ISS grows bigger and as the private space tourist companies move forward it is interesting to speculate as to when the record will be broken. Maybe next year? When Virgin Galactic passengers reach the edge of space for 3 to 4 minutes, will they be part of the “space population”? I wonder when the number will reach 20, 50, 100? In order to have 100 people “off planet” we will need some serious infrastructure in place, such as more space stations/hotels and/or settlements on the Moon, Mars, or asteroids.
On the subject of Virgin Galactic, Spaceship Two has completed its third flight – its highest speed test flight yet. Wannabe space tourists might have to rely on the private industry for the next couple of years because there might not be any spots on future flights to the ISS. Even billionaires will not be able to find a place – according to this article.
Back to Mars, in a move that shows at least some people are still serious about a manned mission to Mars, a new simulation has begun in order to prepare astronauts for the long journey. An experiment in Russia will confine 6 astronauts in a space similar to the hypothetical size of a future Mars spacecraft. They will try to live in this mock spaceship for 105 days. A real round trip to Mars will be almost 5 times that long. Still, this is a start. The biggest problem will be physical effects from the zero G environment. Perhaps they should wait until a rotating spacecraft can be created, one that can produce artificial gravity – like the spaceship in the movie Mission to Mars.
Until we have the proper vehicle, we will have to make do with robotic explorers – two of which have been exploring the Red planet for an amazing 5 years. The Spirit rover recently uncovered a bright patch of soil. Opportunity keeps moving toward Endeavour crater. Here is an article that lays out the potential future of the two rovers. Also, a nice recap of some discoveries made by the Phoenix lander. Not only are discoveries being made directly on the surface. The MRO is snapping some pretty interesting images from space. Given the recent spate of Martian discoveries you would think attitudes would be positive, but some think the Martian program is in dissarray.
Posted under Alternative Energy, Monthly Recap, Science, Space, Spring
This post was written by jloew on April 1, 2009