I had the opportunity to drive to southern Wisconsin (Milwaukee area) last Friday and return slowly and enjoy Wisconsin’s rustic roads on the way back north on Saturday. What amazed me was the extent of the destruction cause by the wind storm that struck this past Friday. There were trees down in many locations in Waushara and Waupaca counties, the worst of which was in Wausau county. People were out with chainsaws cleaning up the mess at about every other country house of farm. There were power lines down and even large branches and tree tops that had blow out into farm fields quite some distance from the nearest forest or grove of trees.
It just goes to show how dangerous straight line winds can be. The storm did not look all that “impressive” on radar but we had some reports from southern Minnesota and the La Crosse area indicating some trees down and power outages. So when the storms entered our area and a handful of counties were under warnings I made sure to break into programming twice to warn people. It is not often that this – dangerous storms during the morning – happens during severe weather season. Seeing the post storm damage and reports of winds in excess of 70mph, I think it was the correct decision. I hope everyone remembers that it is not only tornadoes that cause damage and can kill people. Far more common are straight-line wind storms.
Other than the huge storms on Friday, the weather conversation over the weekend focused primarily on a wet Saturday and cool temps Sunday and Monday. Then cool trend eventually led to some frost this morning. The low temps dropped to 32 in Eagle River and 30 in Land O’ Lakes. It was the first touch of frost of the Fall season. The last time we had a touch of frost was not too long ago – it was June 12th of this year, so we almost made it 3 months without frost! June 12th was the last time the mercury dropped down to 40 here in Wausau and that was the low we had this morning.
For the rest of the week, I will have plenty of time to blog about topics other than weather because not much will be happening. In fact, the weather looks just about perfect for the early to mid part of September. We should have more sun than clouds from today through Sunday and temps should steadily warm, reaching high in the mid to upper 70s from Thursday through Sunday. As of now, it looks like the next chance of rain will be next Monday. Of course, things could change a bit, because the weekend is a few days off, but as of now it is looking good. We just don’t get many perfect weeks or weekends here in Wisconsin throughout the year so you MUST be sure to make the most of it. Winter is not too far away.
One of the “other” topics I have been following for a few years is the development of LED light bulbs. On the surface they offer great promise to help reduce our impact on the environment and maybe save a lot of money. Up until now, the problem is that they cost too much. A standard socket LED bulb sells from around $20 to about $50 on the internet. Yikes!
Still, progress continues. Researchers at the University of Florida have successfully used quantum dots to produce LED lighting and developed a process to make them much cheaper. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding a couple years down the road to see if the latest quantum dot LEDs can be made cheaper. Here is a longer article about all things LED from a lighting conference that took place recently. Almost all of the display booths at the conference were touting new LED lights or new designs (on paper/powerpoint). No one is talking much about incandescents or compact fluorescent bulbs. This is probably because many government have mandated or are threatening to mandate the end of incandescent bulbs (in order to save energy), and compact fluorescent bulbs are so…yesterday – I guess.
The one disturbing thing I found in the longer article was reference to how the Tea Party is against government mandates ending the incandescent bulbs. That in itself is not bad. I am very sympathetic to small government arguments and I would prefer that the government NOT mandate what light bulbs we have to use. What I am concerned about is that the limited government types (of which I would be classified) will toss the baby out with the bathwater. That disdain for light bulb mandates will turn into disdain for LED technology in general. This would be sad because LEDs do hold a lot of promise in saving energy and lessening our impact on the environment.
Have a good Tuesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on September 6, 2011