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The Buresh Blog

    Our way above avg. fall temps. have continued into Nov. but will be 'arrested' for several days through the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving.  85% of the days from Sept. 1 through Nov. 13 - 63 of 74 days - were above avg. Speaking of Thanksgiving - the holiday is fast approaching &, in fact, is the earliest it can be on the calendar - the 22nd (will be the latest next year - 28th).  A busy travel week, & it does look like I'll be tracking a low latitude storm system moving eastward toward Jacksonville.  Early indications are that there will be some wet weather for at least parts of the Thanksgiving weekend.  Stay updated by downloading the First Alert Weather app... &/or going to the Action News Jax weather page.  For travel conditions by highway - click * here *.... by air - * here *. The Panhandle continues to long clean-up process post hurricane Michael (see my blog: 'Forecasting monster hurricane Michael').  Pete Miller from Jacksonville is helping his brother in Quincy, Fl. clear trees & debris after the storm & has shared the photos below (the first one is cotton striped from nearby fields): Baby cheetahs - a litter of four 'kitties' - have been born at White Oak Conservation, Yulee.  If you're not familiar with this large & fascinating local conservation area near the Fl./Ga. border, take a look! - here.  From White Oak: Yulee, Fla. (Nov. 12, 2018) — White Oak Conservation is pleased to announce that four cheetah cubs have been born at White Oak, a wildlife refuge in northeastern Florida owned by philanthropists Mark and Kimbra Walter.     Photos and videos of the cubs are available for use by media outlets here . (Mandatory credit: White Oak Conservation.)     The two female and two male cubs, which have not yet been named, were born last month and are being reared by their mother, Oronsay.  The cubs spent the first few weeks of life in their specially built den and recently began exploring outside. They weigh about 300-500 grams each and were born with their distinctive spots.   Cheetahs are a threatened species, with only 7,000 estimated to live in the wild in Africa and Iran. Their numbers have declined drastically as a result of poaching, habitat loss, the illegal pet trade and because of ranchers, who trap and shoot them to protect livestock.   “We are proud these two cubs bring us closer to saving this species from extinction,” Mark Walter said. “Exceptional planning and care are needed to ensure the cheetah’s survival, and days like this make us hopeful for the future.”   Cheetahs first arrived at White Oak in 1985. Since then, 187 cubs in 52 litters have been born at the refuge. The four new cubs are the second litter for Oronsay, who came to White Oak from Busch Gardens. The cubs’ father is Wookie, who was born at White Oak. This is his first litter.    White Oak is dedicated to saving endangered species such as cheetahs and leads global conservation through innovative science, education, training and collaborations.   White Oak hosted a cheetah conference Oct. 22-26, drawing cheetah experts from around the world to share information and strategies on preserving this vulnerable species, which has disappeared from many areas of Africa and Asia where it once thrived.   “Each cheetah born at White Oak is an important addition and contributes to sustaining a global population of these unique cats,” said Steve Shurter, CEO of White Oak Conservation.  “This welcome birth event was particularly timely, occurring as White Oak convened international experts to strategize on improving the long-term outlook for cheetahs.”   Fact about cheetahs: Cheetahs are the fastest land animals, employing incredible bursts of speed in 60 to 70 mph runs to catch antelope, hares or birds. To communicate, cheetahs make a high-pitched chirping sound that sounds almost bird-like. Cheetah litter sizes typically range from three to five cubs Female cheetahs separate themselves and live solitary lives, while males stay together in groups called coalitions. About White Oak Conservation White Oak works to save endangered species and wild places. White Oak leads global conservation through innovative science, education, training, and collaborations. We are committed to providing conservation options for many of the species that need them the most. White Oak’s 17,000 riverfront acres in northeast Florida provide a refuge for more than 17 endangered species. Additionally, White Oak works to help and inspire others to support conservation by hosting education, conservation, corporate and family groups for visits, overnight stays, conferences, and meetings. We are an Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) certified facility. White Oak is owned by philanthropists Mark and Kimbra Walter. Earth Gauge (NEEF): The amount of waste Americans generate has been on the rise—from 3.66 pounds per person per day in 1980 to 4.48 pounds per person per day in 2015—but we’re also recycling and composting more. Today we recycle or compost about 34.7% of our waste, up from less than 10% in 1980. In 2015, Americans recycled and composted 91 million tons of waste. Keeping waste out of landfills and incinerators reduces CO2 emissions; in 2014, the waste recycled and composted offset emissions by 181 million metric tons—the equivalent to the annual emissions of 38 million cars! November 15 is America Recycles Day. Take this opportunity to scour your home, school, or office for unusual items that you don't need any more but can be recycled: hair care and mouthwash bottles; plastic bags and plastic wrap used to package paper towels, toilet paper, and dry-cleaning; mobile phones, tablets, computers, video game consoles, TVs, and other electronics. Recycling these items gives them new life. Plastic containers can become new plastic products, carpeting, or car parts. Plastic bags and plastic wrap can become new plastic bags, shopping carts, or fencing and deck materials. Valuable metals from electronics can be used in jewelry, new electronics, and car parts. Before tossing something in the trash bin, find out if it can be recycled. Visit www.iwanttoberecycled.org to learn more about the lifecycle of recycled products and find a recycling center where you live.  Sources: Ad Council and Keep America Beautiful. 2015. “Electronics (E-scrap).” Accessed October 26. Ad Council and Keep America Beautiful. 2015. “Plastic Bags and Film.” Accessed October 26. Ad Council and Keep America Beautiful. 2015. “Plastic Bottles and Containers.” Accessed October 26. Keep America Beautiful. 2015. “Keep America Beautiful Brings Focus to “Bathrooms, Bags & Gadgets” for America Recycles Day 2015.” Accessed October 26. US EPA. 2016. “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2014 Fact Sheet.” US EPA. 2018. 'Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2015 Fact Sheet.'   
  • Finally a true taste of fall is on the way.  After flirting with near all-time Nov. record highs the first week of the month, a big dip in the jet stream will send some chilly air all way to the Gulf Coast by about Nov. 14th or so.  The upper level forecast map below is for early Wed., Nov. 14.  While it does not look like a pattern change that sticks & holds, we should see the chilliest air of the season so far for at least a few days including inland 30s late in the week. The transition to fall sometimes results in a secondary peak of the tornado season.  Such as been true this year.  From Halloween to Nov. 6th there were 4 tornado related deaths (ranging from Louisiana to Baltimore, Maryland) making it the deadliest week for tornadoes since April, 2017.  A remarkable stretch thanks to an unusually low number of tornadoes during the past 18+ months - near a record low, in fact far below even the 50th percentile. Your Nov. night skies (skyandtelescope.com): Nov. 11 (dusk): Saturn and the waxing crescent Moon are less than 4° apart in the southwest. Nov. 14 (dawn): Dazzling Venus and bright star Spica are 1° apart in the east-southeast before sunrise.    Nov. 15 (evening): After sunset, look south to see the just-past-first-quarter Moon hang 3° lower right of Mars. Nov. 17 (all night): The weak Leonid meteor shower peaks in early evening, but best chances for seeing meteors are in the hours after midnight.   Nov. 23 (evening): The Moon, just past full and Aldebaran rise less than 3° apart in the east-northeast.  Nov. 29 (morning): Regulus, Leo’s front paw, will be 2° lower right of the Moon, just shy of last quarter, before sunrise. Dec. 2–3 (dawn): Venus, Spica, and waning crescent Moon form a triangle in the predawn sky. Moon Phases New Moon Nov. 7, 11:02 a.m. EST  First Quarter Nov. 15, 9:54 a.m. EST  Full Moon Nov. 23, 12:39 a.m. EST (Beaver Moon) Last Quarter Nov. 29, 7:19 p.m. EST
  • The LAST month of the hurricane season!  Nov. averages 1 hurricane somewhere over the Atlantic Basin about every 2-3 years.  The Caribbean is the most likely spot for genesis with a movement north or northeast.  I continue to update 'Talking the Tropics With Mike' every day during the hurricane season.... hurricane Michael 'wrap' - here. We could use some rain!  After a very wet May/June/July/Aug., Sept. went drier & Oct. especially dry - close to 2.5' below avg.  The weather pattern is such that we'll try to some 'catch up' into next week.  But Nov. is - on avg. - the driest month of the year in Jacksonville.   Our Nov. averages: Low / High - 1st: 55 / 77.... 30th: 47 / 70.... Rainfall: 2.11' Sunrise / Sunset - 1st - 7:41am EDT / 6:39pm EDT.... 30th - 7:05am EST / 5:26pm EST - lose 37 minutes of daylight & - yes - we DO set our clocks back one hour & will again spring forward the second Sunday in March - the 10th.  While voters passed a referendum ending standard time, the measure was not voted on by Congress which is a requirement. EARTH GAUGE - NEEF - By Sarah Blount: For most of the people living in the United States (excluding many of the US territories, Hawaii, and residents of Arizona outside of the Navajo Nation), this Sunday marks the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST). You’ve probably heard the mnemonic “spring forward, fall back,” and hopefully you’ll remember to reset your clocks, but do you know why we have this adjusted summer schedule? Due to the tilt in the Earth’s axis, summer days have more hours of sunlight than do the days in winter. As the sun creeps up over the horizon earlier and earlier in the day, we end up with lots of sun in the early morning hours when much of the population is still asleep. The idea of DST is to shift the clocks an hour earlier, so that the extra daylight instead occurs at the end of the day, when people are awake and out and about, avoiding “wasted daylight” in the wee hours of the morning. In the United States, DST was originally adopted near the end of World War I in an effort to conserve fuel domestically and re-purpose these resources for the war effort. By shifting the clocks earlier, people would have daylight to illuminate their after-work activities, reducing the need for electrical lighting and thus decreasing their fuel consumption. Daylight Saving Time fell out of use after the war, but was again taken up and then subsequently dropped over the course of World War II. It wasn’t until 1966 that DST legislation was passed without being attached to a war, and today we observe this adjusted schedule from the second Sunday in March through the first Sunday in November. Across the world, only parts of Australia and Europe also change the clocks during their summer months, and in Europe this period is called “Summer Time.”  As we “fall back,” look around your home at your lighting. Daylight Saving Time was designed with the goal of saving energy on illumination, so it’s a good reminder to see if there are ways that your lights can be more energy efficient. Are you using traditional incandescent bulbs around your home? By switching to an ENERGY STAR certified bulb, you could realize energy savings of 70-90%, saving you between $30 and $80 in electricity costs over the bulb’s lifetime. Learn more about energy-efficient lighting and determine what kind of lighting is best for your home. Sources: Alridch, Bob. 2015. “Saving Time, Saving Energy: Daylight Saving Time: Its History and Why We Use It.” California Energy Commission. Accessed October 22. ENERGY STAR. 2015. “Lighting: ENERGY STAR Tools and Tips for Home Lighting.” Accessed October 22. Gharib, Malaka. 2016. 'Much of the World Doesn't Do Daylight Saving Time. How Come?' National Public Radio. Accessed October 30, 2017. Kotchen, Matthew J., and Laura E. Grant. 2008. “Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy? Evidence form a Natural Experiment in Indiana.” NBER Working Paper 14429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA. Matulka, Rebecca. 2014. “Top 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Daylight Saving Time.” US Department of Energy. Accessed October 22, 2015. And as we fall back.... fall foliage is peaking a couple of weeks later than usual this year.  The Appalachians will be in all their splendor into the first 10 days of Nov. or so. November is Pancreatic Cancer awareness month.... awareness 'day' is Nov. 15th.  A local - Jacksonville @ UNF - walk/run - 'PurpleStride' is Sat., Nov. 3rd.  I would love to see you there.  You see pancreatic cancer is close to my heart as my mom died from the horrific cancer.  I've posted her 'journey' - 'A Very Personal Journey: My mom's fight against terminal cancer'.
  • We had another 90 degree day on Oct. 20th (just 1 week shy of the latest occurrence of 90 degrees in Jax - Oct. 27, 2010.  The total for the year stands - & will likely remain - at 99 days making 2018 as having the 10th most 90 degree days on record.  Most ever is 114 90 degree days. So we look forward to winter.  NOAA has issued their Dec./Jan./Feb. outlooks calling for a warm winter for especially the Northern & Western U.S. & a wet winter for the Southern U.S.  Much of this forecast is predicated on the potential developing El Nino (warming of the Pacific equatorial waters).  There are some areas of ocean that remain quite warm which can sometimes make for active winters, so that will be something to keep an eye on.   The woolly caterpillar seems to agree with the mild temp. forecast :) ..... Weather & Pumpkin Harvest - Earth Gauge, NEEF: About 80% of the United States’ pumpkin supply is available in October, but pumpkin makes an appearance year-round in pies, breads, and other foods. Weather can have a big impact on the yearly pumpkin harvest. Wet and soggy: Too much rain can delay planting and cause crops to rot. Mildews, which thrive in wet conditions, can damage leaves and stems or kill pumpkin vines and fruits. Hot and dry: Dry, hot weather can cause pumpkins to produce too many male blossoms and too few female blossoms, resulting in a smaller harvest. Lack of water during droughts can also result in smaller and lighter-weight pumpkins. Chilly: An early freeze can kill pumpkins. And, chilly weather in the spring can prevent pumpkin blossoms from germinating. Why? Because bees—which carry pollen from plant to plant—don’t fly until the temperature is at least 55 degrees. Without bees and pollination, there are no pumpkins. If you are carving or cooking this year, put the whole pumpkin to use. If you don’t eat the seeds yourself, spread them outside as a snack for birds and squirrels.  And, instead of weighing down your trash bags and sending past-their-prime pumpkins to the landfill, put them to use in your garden.  Pumpkins can be added to compost piles, where they will decompose and add nutrients to your compost. Sources:  The National Center for Appropriate Technology. 2010. “Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production.” Accessed October 15, 2015. University of Illinois Extension. 2015. “Pumpkins and More: Pumpkin Facts.” Accessed October 15.
  • Post storm photos & video ** here ** ............ video courtesy 'Tornado Trackers' ** here **... & from Tyndall Air Force Base ** here ** It’s not hyperbole to say Michael will “go down in history”. The hurricane is a once in a generation landfall for where the storm took aim, the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Florida Panhandle. There will be storms as strong - or even stronger within the next 100 years - but not likely to hit the exact same area. So here’s my personal recollection of Michael - forecasting the monster, it’s devastation & some personal observations. Some of this will be based on fact, some on opinion. Wed., Oct. 10th: Zoomed in view of Michael's eye from GOES-16 visible satellite: From CIMMS (Integrated Microwave Imagery shows the incredible intensification): The first sign of tropical trouble over or near the Caribbean began to rear its ugly head as early as mid to late Sept. (keep in mind that landfall was on Oct. 10th). A combination of large scale + a few small scale atmospheric & oceanic conditions gave us a heads-up that the tropics would probably “come alive” the first two weeks or so of Oct. This combination included: a large ridge of high pressure at higher latitudes extending east/west from across the N. Atlantic... generally lower pressures at more southern latitudes including the tropics & subtropics. a MJO (Madden-Julian Oscillation) pulse that would result in general upward motion which is often more favorable for tropical development very warm ocean water... the delayed development of a possible El Nino over the equatorial Pacific. From my “Talking the Tropics With Mike” (TTTWM) entry on Sept. 18th - 22 days before Michael’s landfall - as hurricane Florence made landfall in N. Carolina: “Another area to watch in the long term - late month - may be over the Caribbean &/or Gulf of Mexico.” 10 days later on Sept. 28th: “While tropical development could occur just about anywhere, it would appear we especially need to be vigilant of the Western Caribbean &/or Gulf of Mexico from approximately Oct. 5 through the 15th.” Then 1 week - 7 days - before landfall on Oct. 3rd: “Clusters of strong convection persist over the Caribbean.  Broad low pressure has developed, but the t'storms lack organization & there is a fair amount of mid & upper level shear at the moment. Tropical development over/near the Gulf, Caribbean &/or SW Atlantic appears probable next week but the end result is still - as one would expect at this early juncture - far from certain.  Long range global forecast models have at times 'lost' this system.  I would expect models to become more consistent in developing this potential tropical cyclone in the coming days.” THE BIRTH & MATURATION OF MICHAEL: On Mon., Oct. 1st - a day that I was not working on air - First Alert Broadcast Certified Meteorologist Garrett Bedenbaugh wanted to go to air with a graphic highlighting the tropical area of concern. We discussed the pattern & agreed to shade an area of the Caribbean/SW Atlantic & Southeast Gulf of Mexico. 0 About 24 hours later on Tue., Oct. 2nd - as seen above - the National Hurricane Center delineated essentially the same area - a little smaller & a focused a little farther west. The % for development at the time was less than 20%. I don’t “do” %’s for this very reason - it can be misleading. I was confident of development & - to me - saying “this will develop” is more valuable & memorable for the consumer than a low percentage. Now - don’t get me wrong - I understand why the best hurricane forecasters in the world - at NHC - use & believe in probability forecasts. But my own personal experience tells me differently. People are more likely to pay attention - & hopefully PREPARE - if they are told something is going to happen vs. a 10 or 20% chance of something happening. For example: if there’s a 20% chance of rain, you probably feel like you won’t need an umbrella.... but if you’re told “it’s going to rain”, you will most likely grab your umbrella. In any case.... by late week - on Oct. 5th - it was very obvious that a tropical cyclone was going to develop. I sent an email to our station managers Fri. evening alerting them to the potential. But at this time, there was still “only” a 60% chance of development according to the NHC. By Sunday morning, the 7th, it was just a matter of time before there would be tropical development. NHC had deemed the low pressure area just off the coast of Central America as tropical depression #14. In my “Talking the Tropics With Mike” blog midday Sunday: “Michael looks to be a fairly swift moving tropical cyclone which means dangerous impacts could extend well inland.  Everyone from Florida to New Orleans should 'hurricane prepare'..... & depending on where landfall is.... flooding & tornadoes could occur far inland over parts of Alabama, Ga., Fl. & the Carolina's (potentially bad news for Florence - wary Carolina residents)”.   By 1pm (the 7th) the depression was upgraded to tropical storm “Michael”. And despite battling a good deal of west to east shear - as high as 30-40+ mph(!) - Michael slowly but steadily organized & strengthened. This organization - including pulses of very strong convection (t’storms) during which the center “jumped” around attempting to set up camp underneath the strongest, most persistent convection - continued rather methodically through Monday. I pointed this out Sat., the 6th in “TTTWM”: “Shear relaxes for a time over the Central Gulf  - & when combined with better upper level ventilation - there is concern for fairly rapid strengthening once at a more northern latitude over the Gulf”. By Mon. night (the 8th), a central core had become well established & Michael became a hurricane though was still somewhat disorganized. Through Tue. & Tue. evening, explosive t’storm development around the center continued virtually unabated & by midnight Tue./early Wed. morning, Michael was undergoing a rapid intensification cycle (RIC). This cycle continued right up through landfall at 1:55pm EDT Wed., Oct. 10th helped out by a mix of a nearly ideal environment consisting of: * very warm ocean water to a deep depth... * weakening shear offset by the general heading of Michael to the north... * & excellent upper level ventilation helped out by strong high pressure to the northeast combined with a strong trough of low pressure approaching from the west. 1 Oct. 6th shear analysis shows less shear over the Northern Gulf: European forecast model (500 mb) from Oct. 5th for Oct. 9th shows the two big 'players' involving Michael's movement - upper level ridge W. Atlantic & strong upper level trough Western U.S.: The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flew hurricane Michael from Oct. 7, 2018 right up to landfall on the 10th. This photo is from Wed. morning’s (10th) reconnaissance mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Garrett Black, 53rd WRS): Fascinating photo below from 'Basehunters Chasing': 'Oct 10, 2018 - Tyndall AFB, FL - 14 mm wide angle shot standing in the eye of Hurricane Michael with full sunshine. We heard thunder a couple times in the eyewall and could hear the roar of the wind around us at times. Very surreal experience.' Graphic below posted by Josh Morgerman, iCyclone: ' During # MICHAEL , I collected quality-controlled data from 2 locations inside # hurricane 's inner core. POINT A went through eye; POINT B (just 3.7 n mi to NW) stayed in inner eyewall, without ever having calm. Differences between data from these 2 points are fascinating.' FORECAST MODELS: Forecast modeling was really good in spots & really bad at times - about what one would expect because - after all - they are just forecast models(!) of a very chaotic atmosphere.  The American model GFS did a fine job of sniffing out possible development well in advance of true formation. However, there was about a 3-4 day period where the GFS “lost” any kind of storm at all. And, of course, there was a big range in where any storm might go. But the model eventually did begin to catch on to a system developing & getting pulled north by a deep upper level trough which is a typical pattern with mid to late season tropical cyclones. By Fri., Oct. 5th the GFS was consistently back “on board” with development showing pretty fast movement northward anywhere from Pascagoula to the Fl. Panhandle. The GFS ended up being excellent on speed & pretty darn good on location rather far in advance - at least during the weekend before the big landfall. The European model had some problems of its own. The model did not catch on right away that tropical development would occur but did start to consistently show such by about Wed., Oct. 5th. There were a few model runs that pulled the storm east of Fl. but the ensemble - all of the models averaged together - showed either a Fl. or Gulf coast storm. This model was one of the more intense solutions but was also quite consistently too far east & much too slow generally showing any landfall to be late Thu. if not Fri. - a full 24+ hours behind the GFS & what turned out to be reality. The UKMET model is often my “go to” solution as a good compromise between the GFS & European model. The UKMET also showed consistent tropical development by Fri., Oct. 5th - was very strong... about Wed. night/early Thu.... but quite a bit farther east than most of the other modeling - in fact, as far east near Tampa. So when all was said & done.... you can see that a combination - or average (consensus) - of these 3 models would have yielded a pretty close forecast on what actually happened: a near Cat. 5 landfall Wed. afternoon on the Fl. Panhandle. HISTORICAL NOTE: Climatology alerted us to beware of Michael & possible serious mischief. In the “Buresh Blog” posted Wed., Oct. 5th, I pointed out Matthew in 2016, Joaquin in 2015, Sandy in 2012, Wilma in 2005, Mitch in 1998 & Opal in 1995. It turned out Michael would be more intense than any of these Oct. predecessors. The map below courtesy Dr. Phil Klotzbach shows Oct. U.S.hurricane landfalls going back to 1851. Recent 'M' names have been nasty to say the least: MY FORECAST: The forecast was not perfect, but I think - in fact, strongly believe - it was helpful & effective. There certainly was lead time for people to prepare & evacuate - in absolutely no way, shape or form did 'Michael come out of nowhere'. I wrote “hurricane prepare” Sun., the 7th & as late as sunrise Wed. morning - the day that will live in hurricane & Panhandle infamy - I said & wrote “if you have friends or loved ones that live in the Central Panhandle - tell them to get out”.  While time was running out by early Wed., a simple get in your car & drive north 20-30 miles or more if possible was still very do-able & would have been life saving. I had forecast an east jog or move upon approach to land. This did turn out to be the case though there still were occasional “spurts” north & even east from time to time right up to - & beyond - landfall. These typical track wobbles - in the end - helped pound Panama City with the western eyewall but helped to somewhat spare Tallahassee. My expectation for some in-close eastward movement was based on friction from land... the approach of the strong upper level trough.... & the very warm ocean water of the NE Gulf. I had seen - & taken note - of a similar path & behavior by Cat. 3 hurricane Ivan which hit the Panhandle in Sept., 2004. So I did generally - but very carefully - downplay impacts for Jacksonville/NE Fl./SE Ga. though always emphasizing (& realizing deep down) the potential danger of so-called fringe effects including isolated tornadoes & gusty winds not to mention the pitfalls of a blown forecast which - I’m pleased to say - did not happen. Never did I expect water to be a problem whether storm surge or fresh water (heavy rain) despite strong southerly flow right up (north) the St. Johns River which did cause some minor flooding for downtown Jacksonville but nothing like Irma last year. IMPACTS: Jacksonville & surrounding areas did indeed only feel the fringe effects of Michael in the form of gusty winds, isolated tornadoes & heavy but brief rain. At least one tornado touched down in Western Clay Co. with a number of photos/videos. The same northward moving storm produced a long-lasting funnel cloud over Western Duval Co. that crossed I-10 as video taped by one of our Action News videographer/reporter duos. Wind gusts with several of the t’storm clusters/bands reached at least 50 mph. Gradient winds from Michael itself Wed. night into early Thu. were sustained at 25-35 mph over SE Ga. closer to the center with guts of 40-55 mph vs. 10-20 mph over NE Fl. with gusts of 30-40 mph. The southern - or bottom - portion of a landfalling tropical cyclone has a tendency to decay the fastest because dry continental air is easily wrapped into the storm from the north &/or west. Michael was no exception so SE Ga. & NE Fl. benefited from this dry air as early as mid evening Wed. which cutoff any additional rain or storms. Clay County tornado east of Highway 301 north of Keystone Heights: Funnel cloud over Clay County looking north from Keystone Heights: Funnel cloud near Palm Coast, Flagler Co.: Michael's wave action & storm surge cut right through the St. Joseph Peninsula in the Panhandle (satellite image courtesy Tallahassee N.W.S.): Image below from the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services shows the tremendous tree damage: CLIMATE CHANGE: Let me get this out there right away(!): the earth IS WARMING. Now let me emphatically say this: Michael developed within an environment ripe for formation in which several seasonal factors came together to produce a powerful hurricane. Without as few as one of the key ingredients, Michael is most likely not the monster it became. The monster Michael was as likely to occur in ... say.... the 15th Century as the 21st Century ... or somewhere in-between.... pre-industrial as well as post-industrial. Michael was a product of unique but certainly not unheard of ingredients coming together at the right - or shall we say wrong - time to produce a massive hurricane. Ocean water was warmer than avg. by about 1 - 1.8 degrees F. Somewhat significant but not remarkable. More importantly the water was warm to a deep depth. Mid & upper level shear was seasonably strong initially but relaxed with time. An approaching upper level trough helped push the jet stream farther south - something that’s very common in Oct. when the N. Hemisphere starts to transition from summer to autumn. Oct., after all, often produces a secondary peak in the hurricane season as well as a mini severe convective period at mid latitudes. The approaching upper level trough acted to “ventilate” Michael - divergence aloft - which aided the t’storm updrafts. This recipe cooked up a powerful hurricane that lead to the worst possible outcome: an intensifying severe hurricane that was accelerating upon approach to land.  Image below from Dr. Phil Klotzbach showing Gulf sea surface temp. anomalies: Dr. Phil Klotzbach U.S. landfalling intense hurricanes since 1851 - arguably no significant statistical trend over the last century & a half: From Climate.gov - upward trend very apparent since 1980: University of Alabama, Huntsville global temp. report: FIRST ALERT WEATHER TEAM: A whole lot of sleepless hours & more blood, sweat & tears than you probably realize go into trying to accurately predict a disaster like Michael & then the many graphics & hours in trying to clearly & calmly communicate the forecast, the message & how the local area will - or will NOT - be impacted. My own personal hours during such a situation are typically from about 6:30am until at least 2:30am the next day. A big shoutout to the First Alert Weather team - the dedication, the many extra hours that included vacations cut short, organization, the camaraderie, the ability to “pivot” if/when necessary and their overall acumen. I am thankful.
  • Though it's getting late in the season, we still need to be vigilant when it comes to the tropics - see 'Talking the Tropics With Mike' for daily updates. Matthew, Joaquin (late Sept.), Sandy, Wilma, Mitch & Opal are just a few that made headlines in past years. Matthew:   Joaquin: Sandy: Wilma: Mitch: Opal: And sure enough we have an area to keep an eye on through mid-month - Caribbean, SE Gulf &/or SW Atlantic which is a classic development area later in the season. Note the secondary peak for tropical development about Oct. 15th: Where exactly any tropical system might go when/if originating over the 'area of concern' will be dictated by a strong upper level (500 mb) high pressure (see GFS forecast map below) over or near the S.E. U.S. which has been a mainstay of the late summer/early fall & helped produced the hot/dry Sept. for Jacksonville.  A stronger upper level high will have a tendency to 'protect' Jacksonville & Florida as long as the ridge stays oriented over or near the area.  But any weakening or shifting of the upper high changes the 'game'.  A persistent & strong upper level trough of low pressure over the Western U.S. will likely become a player as the trough tries to push east & tries to break down the strong upper level ridge.  Still early, but this set-up is something to closely monitor. September is in the books & will go down as one of the hottest on record.  In fact, Sept., 2018 was the hottest on record since the 'official' thermometer was moved from d'town Jax to JIA in 1956.  Somewhat remarkable, Sept. tied Aug. - 82.4 degrees - as the hottest of the year.  That's only happened 4 other times - 1921, 1925 & 1933.  The month was also the only Sept. since 1956 (JIA) to have every night warmer than 70 degrees.  The avg. high of 91.1 degrees ties the all-time avg. Sept. high (1925).  & while the month was drier than avg. as a whole, we have far exceeded the record for the number of t'storm days in a single year with 101 so far which beats the record of 95 set in 1986, 1924 & 1903. 0 1
  • Talking the Tropics With Mike' - updated every single day during the hurricane season. We've endured one of the hottest September's on record in Jacksonville.  The charts below are as of Sept. 26th.  But perhaps most remarkable is that we have had no nights below 70 degrees for the entire month - something that has not happened in the last 30+ years!  This September will manage to rival August as the hottest month of the year & was hotter than June & July with nearly as many 90 degree days as July!  The culprit has been a semi-permanent upper level high pressure near or over the Southeast U.S.  Generally sinking air under this kind of weather system results in above avg. temps. & - usually - drier conditions as well.  So we turn the calendars to October & should expect cooler temps. :) .... averages at JIA: Low / High - 1st: 66 / 84..... 31st: 55 / 77 Rainfall: 3.93' Sunrise / Sunset - 1st - 7:20am / 7:12pm..... 31st - 7:40am / 6:40pm - lose 52 minutes of daylight. And as we exit from summer into fall, the arctic sea ice has reached its minimum & looks like it will go down as the 6th greatest ice melt on record - an ongoing trend over the last 20-30+ years or so. From NEEF - By Sarah Blount: With the  release of the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s analysis of 2018's conditions for sea ice minimum, it’s a good time to take a look at the role this ice plays in the larger Arctic ecosystem, and how different marine mammals rely on this fluctuating resource. Polar bears Polar bears spend most of their time on sea ice, using these floating platforms as their base of operations for hunting and feeding on ringed seals, their primary prey, as well as a habitat to look for potential mates and eventually breed. Sea ice is also used to help polar bears get from point A to point B—in this manner, the sea ice serves as their transportation infrastructure, helping polar bears move inland to their terrestrial denning areas, and to make other long-distance movements. Arctic ringed seals The smallest seal in the Arctic, the ringed seal uses sea ice for shelter, giving birth (pupping), and for resting. Their thick claws can create and maintain breathing holes in the ice, allowing the seals to remain in the water beneath the ice for extended periods of time. Atop these breathing holes the female seals may construct a lair in the ice, which is used for resting, as well as pupping and nursing their young. Outside of the lair, the seals take advantage of the surface of the sea ice to bask in the sun while they complete their molt. Walruses Like their pinniped brethren the ringed seals, walruses are also highly dependent on sea ice for birthing and haul-out space (when the marine mammals will emerge from the water to rest after feeding bouts), with birthing concentrated in the late spring, and haul-out occurring throughout much of the year. The walruses also rely on sea ice as a source of stability and safety during storms, taking refuge on the floating platforms for protection from the roiling seas. With these dependencies in mind, take a look at the trends scientists are observing in arctic sea ice cover: Diminishing Arctic Sea Ice. Sources: Alaska Regional Office, Marine Mammals Management Office. n.d.  Environmental Assessment: Endangered Species Act 4(d) Regulations for Threatened Polar Bears . Anchorage: US Fish and Wildlife Service.  Kovacs, K. M., P. Lemons, J. G. MacCracken, C. Lydersen. 2015.  Walruses in a Time of Climate Change  [in Arctic Report Card 2015]. NOAA. NOAA Fisheries. 2016. 'Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida) .' NOAA. Accessed September 27. NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Region. 2014.  Arctic Ringed Seal Critical Habitat: Questions & Answers . National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA. Florence was one of the most devastating hurricanes on record - from a water standpoint - for the Carolina's.  The tropical cyclone was not an easy one to forecast & - for many - it will be surprising to learn that the American GFS model outperformed the often-ballyhooed European forecast model.  In an article in the Washington Post, the GFS model is the clear 'winner'.  None of the models did very well with intensity - too strong up to landfall - but the GFS won this battle as well.  However, the FV3 GFS model - which is a planned replacement for the GFS - did not outperform the older GFS though did still manage to have smaller errors than the European model.  All of the global forecast models struggled with the positioning & especially strength of the upper level high pressure ridge from the Central U.S. to the NW Atlantic.  That single synoptic scale weather system likely caused the greatest headaches (errors) for the forecast models.
  • Talking the Tropics With Mike'....... Autumn arrives Saturday, Sept. 22nd & oh how Jacksonville/NE Fl./SE Ga. could use some cooler temps.! After the hottest Jags football game ever Sun., Sept. 16th (smoked the Patriots!), we've now surpassed our avg. # of annual 90 degree days in what has been a very hot September. The autumnal equinox - when the sun's rays are directly over the equator resulting in about equal amounts of daylight vs. night: From EarthSky: Average temps. at JIA in the coming months (low / high): Sept. 22: 68 / 86 Oct. 19: 59 / 80 Nov. 28: 48 / 70 EARTH GAUGE (NEEF): National Public Lands Day is Saturday, September 22, 2018! This is the 25th annual celebration of this nation-wide event, and it it the largest single-day volunteer event for public lands in the country. Join friends and neighbors in educational, recreational, and volunteer events on public lands large and small, from national parks and forests, wildlife refuges, historic sites, state parks, and local and regional parks and gardens. Public lands make up 30% of the land in the country, so no matter where you live, there’s a good chance that there’s a great place nearby to get outside and take part. Whether it’s taking a geology hike, helping in an ecological restoration project, or enjoying a group kayaking trip, there are events planned for people of all ages and interests. National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is also a fee-free day on many federally managed public lands, so if there’s a park you’ve been eyeing, NPLD is a great time to visit a new spot, or to revisit an old favorite. Get outside and celebrate the public lands we all enjoy! Find out what’s happening where you live. Visit the National Public Lands Day mapto search for events by state or zip code. Most events take place rain or shine, so check the local forecast and prepare for all kinds of weather. Florida parks that will be free SAT. - click here!  Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine:
  • Daily updates: 'Talking the Tropics With Mike'.... The week has been dominated by hurricane Florence.  By Thursday, the tropical cyclone had been named 13 days which tied the longest lasting named storm from last year - 'Irma'.  Florence went through a number of interesting structural changes on its way to the Carolina's.  The storm is likely to be most remembered - & could go down in the history books - for its storm surge & especially torrential rain. We saw at least two eyewall replacement cycles.  This occurs when mature, strong hurricanes have an outer wall develop which cuts off the updrafts & moisture supply from the original (inner) eye.  The hurricane weakens during this process until the replacement cycle is completed.  Then - if all other conditions are favorable - the hurricane may again intensify. < Lucky for Jacksonville/NE Fl./SE Ga.... we were on the subsident or dry side of Florence.  The atmosphere has to compensate for the massive updrafts in & near a hurricane, so that balance is massive sinking (descending) air on the far fringe of a hurricane.  The result is sunny, breezy, dry weather. Proximity & location in relation to the eye of a hurricane makes a world of difference.  Fri., Sept. 14th in Jacksonville, NC vs. Jacksonville, FL: What a forecast from the National Hurricane Center!  Below.... the image on the left is the landfall forecast from Sun., 09/09 for Fri. .... the image on the right is 7:15am Fri., 09/14 - the actual landfall.  Plenty of time for preps & evacuations.  Admittedly intensity was off (forecast was Cat. 3/4) - which is the toughest nut to crack in the forecast/research world - but the message was out way in advance of an historic storm - at least from a water standpoint. From the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF): Sarah Blount - Before / During / After the Storm: Hurricane Florence is hitting the U.S. Evacuations have been ordered in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, as the Mid-Atlantic hurries to prepare for the storm's devastating impact. Of course, the US is no stranger to these deadly storms—last year, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria left thousands of people dead in their wake, and many more were faced with injuries, damaged and flooded homes and vehicles, and a lack of cell service and electricity. In the days surrounding one of these storms, there are important steps that people in affected areas need to take to help protect themselves and their families—that includes before, during, and after the storm. Read on for safety instructions at each step of the storm’s timeline. More information can be found here. Before If you live on the Gulf or Atlantic Coasts, determine if you live in a hurricane evacuation area. If the answer is yes, plan your route—and make a plan for your pets. In the event of an emergency, not all storm shelters can accommodate animals. Plan for evacuation. After you leave, where will you go? Make a shelter plan. If the storm hit, how would you keep in contact with your family? If someone was separated from the group, where would you all meet? Make a communications plan.   In the event that you are unable to get to a store, would you have enough food, water, medical supplies, personal prescriptions, and lighting to get by for at least three days? Find out how much you need and what you should gather in your emergency kit.  Are you covered? Check your insurance policies to make sure you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property in the event of a hurricane. Document your property in the event that it is damaged or destroyed. Check your insurance.  How will you know if a storm is coming? Learn more about the different National Weather Service alerts. During After you know the storm is coming, but before the storm hits, secure your home. Cover all of the windows with storm shutters. Check the websites of your local National Weather Service office to get the latest information on the storm and learn how you should respond. Follow the instructions of emergency officials, and leave if ordered to. If you are not ordered to evacuate, take steps to shelter in place. Here is guidance from the National Weather Service  on how to shelter in place from a hurricane, and here is more detailed instruction from Ready.gov  (at the bottom of the page). Don’t forget—if the eyewall of the hurricane passes over you, the following period of calm is not safe to emerge. The other eyewall is coming. After Just because the storm has passed doesn’t mean that the danger is over. Read on for safety instructions for returning to a damaged or flooded home and neighborhood. Only return home when the proper authorities have given the all-clear. When walking or driving around your neighborhood, be on the lookout for places where the roads or walkways may have been eroded by floodwaters, or blocked by debris. Do not walk or stand in standing water, as it may be electrically charged from nearby downed power lines. If you see any of these downed power lines, contact the power company's emergency number. If possible, turn off electricity at the main breaker or the fuse box before entering your home. Contact your local power company or a qualified electrician to help if you are unfamiliar with this process.  Photograph all damage to your property for insurance purposes before you begin your repairs. If it’s possible to take precautions to prevent further damage (i.e. placing a tarp over a damaged roof) try to do that as soon as possible, as your insurance may not cover damages that occur after the storm. If you are using a generator or other gasoline-powered machine at your home, DO NOT allow it to run inside of the building, including your garage. This equipment can generate carbon monoxide, which is deadly. Use this equipment outside, and far away from any windows.  For a more complete list of how to protect yourself, your home, and your family after a flood, please refer to pages 10-11 of this resource from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Unfortunately, there are those who take the opportunity immediately after a storm to try and prey on the confusion and vulnerability of affected communities. To learn more about scams to be on the lookout for immediately after a storm, please refer to FEMA’s Rumor Control website . Sources: Chappell, Bill. 2018. 'Hurricane Watch issues for Carolinas Ahead of Category 4 Florence.' National Public Radio. Accessed September 11. FEMA. n.d.  How to Prepare for a Flood . FEMA. 2017. “Be Informed: Floods.” Accessed September 12. FEMA. 2017. “Be Informed: Hurricanes.” Accessed September 12. FEMA. 2017. “Harvey Rumor Control.” Accessed September 12. National Weather Service. 2018. “What to Do Before the Tropical Storm or Hurricane.” NOAA. Accessed September 11. National Weather Service. 2018. “Actions to Take When a Tropical Storm or Hurricane Threatens.” NOAA. Accessed September 11. Ready. 2018. “Floods.” Department of Homeland Security. Accessed September 11. Stein, Perry, Mark Berman, and Katie Zezima. 2017. “Irma Weakens to a Tropical Storm After Knocking Out Power to Millions in Florida. ” Washington Post, September 11.  I have to share this with you!  The photo below is from 30 years ago & was shown during the past week on WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa - that's yours truly on the far left.  Next to me is Ed Wilson who is celebrating his 30 year on the air in Des Moines.  Good memories! :)
  • A busy period in the tropics through at least mid September.  Read the latest - 'Talking the Tropics With Mike' - updated every day through the hurricane season. Speaking of the tropics.... mighty hurricane Irma was churning through the Atlantic & Caribbean one year ago!  The devastating storm will go down as one of the most intense & damage in history (Caribbean/Cuba/U.S.).... up to this point.  Irma made its closest approach to Jacksonville on Sept. 11th.  Read my summary * here *. So in keeping with the spirit of the peak of the hurricane season.... September is 'National Preparedness Month'.  The First Alert Weather Team will take the First Alert Storm Tracker to Costco at the St. Johns Town Center Wed., Sept. 19th to inform shoppers about to be weather aware & how to keep you & your family safe. From NEEF (National Environmental Education Foundation): Extreme weather can occur anywhere, at any time. September is National Preparedness Month, a reminder that everyone needs to prepare for the natural disasters and emergencies that impact us where we live, work, and play. In 2017, extreme weather and climate events claimed thousands of lives across the United States, and 16 of these events caused damages that each led more than $1 billion in losses—with a total price tag of more than $300 billion. Drought, hail, flooding, tornadoes, and severe storms each rocked the nation, but the standouts were the hurricanes and wildfire. In August and September, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria each left paths of devastation, and in October the California firestorms were record-setting in their destruction. While the events of 2017 were historic in their impact, and the country continues to rebuild in their wake, it's important to remember that a weather event doesn't have to break records to pose a threat to you or your family. Luckily, there are things you can do right now to help prepare your family, friends, and community for whatever Mother Nature has in store. Make a Plan  If a disaster strikes, how will you get in touch with members of your household? Where will you go if you need to leave your home? Do you have the supplies and information you need? Don’t be caught off-guard: make a plan and make sure every member of your household knows what to do in an emergency. These tips and tools will get you started: Create an emergency communication plan so that everyone has the information they need to get in touch. Plan for your risks. Get the facts on disasters where you live and know what you will do if you need to evacuate.  Build an emergency supply kit. Collect basic items you may need in an emergency. Tailor your plan. Kids, older adults, pets, people with disabilities, and people with health conditions may need special assistance or supplies during a disaster.   Lend a Hand How can you help your community prepare and respond to natural disasters and other emergencies? Participate in National PrepareAThon! Day on September 15 and join millions of Americans taking action to prepare.   Volunteer. Many community organizations offer free education and training for volunteers. Learn more about opportunities with Certified Emergency Response Teams, American Red Cross, Medical Reserve Corps, and others. Sources: Chappell, Bill. 2017. 'Category 5 Hurricane Irma Brings 175-MPH Winds To Bear on Caribbean Islands.' NPR, September 5. Lamothe, Dan, Jessica Contrera, and Sarah Larimer. 2017. 'Texas Continues Harvey Recovery Efforts as Hurricane Irma Looms in the Atlantic.' Washington Post, September 5. Mejia, Brittny. 2017. 'Weather Delivers Blow to La Tuna Fire's Spread: 'Mother Nature Kicked In.'' Los Angeles Times, September 4. National Hurricane Center. 2017. 'Hurricane Irma Public Advisory.' NOAA, September 5. Smith, Adam B. 2018. '2017 US billion-dollar weather and climate disasters: a historic year in context.' Climate.gov. Accessed September 4. We're coming off a very stormy summer (June/July/Aug.), & the stats - provided by the Jax N.W.S. - prove it.  69 out of 92 - or about 75% - of the summer days had t'storms officially at JIA.  Some places had even more days with thunder/lightning.  The avg. is 47 days.  Rainfall between 25 & 30' 'only' ranked the summer as the 16th wettest on record... & not as wet as last summer(!). September / early Oct. night skies: skyandtelescope.com for more information.   Sept. 5 & 6 (dawn): Mercury poses in the east 1½° above Regulus in Leo before the Sun rises. Binoculars help.   Sept. 13 (dusk): The waxing crescent Moon, Jupiter, and star Zubenelgenubi (zoo-ben-el-geh-NEW-bee, or Alpha Librae) form an almost perfect equilateral triangle with sides some 4° long.   Sept. 15 (evening): The nearly first-quarter Moon is 8° above Antares and flanked by Jupiter and Saturn.   Sept. 16 (evening): The first-quarter Moon is 8° to the right of the ringed planet Saturn   Sept. 17 (evening): The Moon has leapfrogged over Saturn and now poses 4½° to its left.   Sept. 19 (evening): A fattening Moon hovers some 4° above Mars. They set together in the west-southwest.   Sept. 22 : Autumnal equinox, 9:54 p.m. EDT. The Sun rises due east and sets due west everywhere.   Sept. 30 (night): Waxing gibbous Moon rises in the late evening, soon followed by Aldebaran. Later they are 1° apart.   Oct. 4 (morning): A thin waning crescent Moon and the Beehive star cluster rise together well before sunrise.   Oct. 11 (dusk): Jupiter gleams in the southwest with a very thin crescent Moon just 3° above it.   Moon Phases Last Quarter: Sept. 2, 10:37 p.m. EDT New Moon: Sept. 9, 2:01 p.m. EDT First Quarter: Sept. 16, 7:15 p.m. EDT Full Moon: Sept. 24, 10:52 p.m. EDT (Harvest Moon)

The Latest News Headlines

  • Over a week after being publicly ridiculed for losing her seat in Congress by President Donald Trump, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) on Friday night was on the verge of pulling off a stunning comeback in her re-election bid, as the continued counting of ballots in her Utah district finally pushed her into the lead by a slender 419 votes. “Hard to see how she relinquishes that now,” said Dave Wasserman, an elections expert who has been forecasting a possible comeback by Love for several days. Still being tabulated are thousands of provisional ballots in Utah and Salt Lake counties, which take time to verify, as Utah and a number of other states slowly push their way through the votes of the November mid-term elections. The jump into first place for Love came as a judge tossed out a lawsuit that she filed – which oddly would have stopped vote counting in Salt Lake County – a move that her opponent said ‘smacks of desperation.’ “Utah voters deserve better than this,” said Democrat Ben McAdams. With the Utah County numbers posting, Rep. Mia Love has taken a 419-vote lead over Ben McAdams. #utpol — #VoteGehrke (@RobertGehrke) November 16, 2018 But the McAdams lead over Love has slowly withered away in recent days, leaving Love favored by many to win re-election. A comeback victory would be filled with irony, especially after the mocking ridicule heaped upon Love and a number of other House Republicans by President Donald Trump, who said the day after the elections that Love and others were defeated because they refused to embrace him. “Mia Love gave me no love and she lost,” the President said, almost seeming to enjoy the outcome. “Too bad. Sorry about that Mia.” President Trump lists Republicans who didn't embrace him and lost. 'They did very poorly. I'm not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it.' 'Mia Love gave me no love and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that Mia.' pic.twitter.com/ZV7EKcWjLX — CSPAN (@cspan) November 7, 2018 Two weekends after the elections, a small number of races remained undecided – with some that could stretch until after Thanksgiving: FLORIDA SENATE – With a manual recount finishing up, and Florida’s 67 counties waiting through Saturday to deal with any other stray ballots, Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) seems headed for victory over Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). This will give the GOP a big victory, and a 2 seat margin in the U.S. Senate. From a statistical/electoral/historical perspective, Scott's defeat of Nelson is pretty much unmatched in recent political history. Beating a swing state opposition party senator without a hint of scandal in a midterm… It's quite impressive. — (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) November 17, 2018 CALIFORNIA 39 – This is the first of six (or maybe seven) undecided House races. After holding the lead for days, Republican Young Kim has now been swamped by late votes coming from both Orange and Los Angeles counties, and now trails Democrat Gil Cisneros by over 3,000 votes. This should complete what is a total GOP wipeout in Orange County, as Democrats would gain six GOP seats in the Golden State. Congressional districts in Orange County, Calif. in 2016 and in 2018 pic.twitter.com/TWRQ1pPzS4 — Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) November 16, 2018 CALIFORNIA 21 – This seat has already been called by the AP and other news organizations for the Republicans, but as the votes keep coming in, Rep. David Valadao’s lead keeps shrinking, and some wonder if he can hold on. This might be a long shot, but it bears watching. It’s hard to fathom that Democrats could gain a seventh seat in California. We've been watching CA-21 like a hawk for more than a week now, and the chance for Democrat T J Cox to catch up to Valadao has gone from remote but intriguingly possibile to plausible. We're moving this one to our uncalled races tab. https://t.co/FeGWU7SsoE — Daniel Donner (@donnermaps) November 17, 2018 UTAH 4 – As mentioned above, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) now has the lead. This would be a big save for Republicans, who have had very little to cheer about in the past 10 days since the elections. In fact, there has been an almost daily drumbeat of Democratic victories each night since then, as they edge closer to a possible pickup of almost 40 House seats, their largest gains since 1974 after Watergate. BREAKING: As expected, #UT04 GOP Rep. Mia Love (R) has pulled into the lead over Ben McAdams (D) by 419 votes. Hard to see how she relinquishes it now. https://t.co/nfsptUdHiN — Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 16, 2018 NEW YORK 22 – This seat can probably be called for the Democrats by the AP and other organizations, as absentee ballot counts on Friday went clearly for Democrat Anthony Brindisi, leaving Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) behind by over 3,000 votes in this northern New York district. This is not a spot where the GOP should have lost. @Redistrict Brindisi lead in NY22 has surged to more 3000 votes! I see no path to victory for Tenney. She's falling further behind as more ballots are counted, that's a losing combination, a larger deficit, and fewer votes left to count. https://t.co/ae1Ny8Osws — Kevin O'Connell (@Kevtoco) November 17, 2018 NEW YORK 27 – Indicted Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) still leads by over 1,000 votes in this western New York district, with one big cache of absentee ballots and provisionals to count next Tuesday around Buffalo. Democrat Nate McMurray has been winning a majority of absentee ballots in recent days in counties where he lost the Election Day vote, making some wonder if he has a chance to win this race at the last minute next week. This is the equivalent of betting a horse that’s maybe 9-1. It might win. Nate McMurray continues to gain ground in counties that he lost to Rep. Chris Collins in. Biggest test will be Tuesday when the Erie County absentee and affidavit votes will be counted. https://t.co/f5nincKkZx — WGRZ (@WGRZ) November 16, 2018 GEORGIA 7 – While the race for Governor is over, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) has a 419 vote edge in this suburban Atlanta district, with all of the votes counted. Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux announced on Friday afternoon that she would ask for a recount. While a recount doesn’t usually switch the outcome, we have certainly seen in Florida and other states in recent days where there are tabulation errors uncovered – so you can’t say this is in the bag for the GOP – but they are favored. News: We will file for a recount of the 7th district race. With a margin of only 419 votes (0.14%), we want to make sure every vote was counted correctly &amp; fairly. It is crucial that every eligible vote is counted &amp; every voice is heard. #GA07 #GAPol — Carolyn Bourdeaux (@Carolyn4GA7) November 16, 2018 TEXAS 23 – Even though she’s behind by just under 1,000 votes, Cindy Ortiz Jones spent the week in Washington going through freshman orientation, but that may not work out for the Texas Democrat, as Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) seems like he’s in good position in this race, leading by 0.5 percent. Hurd’s people on Friday were declaring victory, but it wasn’t clear if Jones would press for any kind of vote review. Republicans are favored to hold on to this border district, but it was much closer than anyone had predicted. Bexar County has finished counting, leaving only six votes left to count (Kinney &amp; Upton). @WillHurd has won by 928 votes, this race is over #TX23 — Connor Pfeiffer (@ConnorPfeiffer) November 16, 2018 Democrats right now have a net gain of 36 seats – they should win at least two of the undecided races left, and have an outside chance at others. Right now, the new Congress stands at 231 Democrats to 198 Republicans, with six seats undecided. One final note – this extended time of vote counting is totally normal. Reporters follow it every two years, but many partisans think there is something amiss.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says an active investigation is underway after their officers were involved in a shooting in the Paxon area on the Westside.  The Director of Investigations and Homeland Security with JSO, Ron Lendvay, says the shooting stemmed from a traffic violation at around 4:00 PM Friday.  'A field training officer and his recruit were working in the area of St. Clair and Detroit Street, when they observed a traffic violator. The violator was observed running a stop sign and increasing his speed. The officers activated their overhead emergency lights and noted that the passenger side kept opening and closing as the vehicle continued on,' explains Lendvay.  At some point, the officers say the vehicle stopped to let someone out of the passenger side on Melson Avenue. JSO says that person was seen by the officers with a pistol in his hand.  Officers stopped to chase that man and the field training officer was able to catch up to him. At some point during their interaction, police say the officer fired several shots at him.  The suspect was hit by the gunfire, taken into custody, and then to the hospital, where police say he underwent surgery. He's now described as being in critical condition, but currently stable at the hospital.  As this chase and shooting was occurring, Lendvay says the original driver abandoned the vehicle nearby and fled on foot as did another passenger. At this time, neither of those individuals have been found.  Lendvay says several officers involved in different portions of this incident were wearing body cameras. That video is still in the process of being collected and will be reviewed.  At this time, police say it's not clear if the suspect fired any shots or what exactly occurred during the interaction with the officer.  The sheriff's office plans to release further information on this shooting on Saturday. WATCH FULL BRIEFING FROM JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF’S OFFICE:
  • Gas prices are down across the country right now, which is good news if you plan on driving to visit friends or family for Thanksgiving. Depending on which way you are going, you might want to fill up before you leave, says Patrick DeHaan, Head of Gas and Petroleum Analysis at Gas Buddy.  'Generally, if you are heading out of the state, wait until you cross out of Florida to fill up,' he says.  But if you are heading south to places like Miami or the Florida Keys, you'll want to get your gas before you get too far south, because that's where the prices are the highest.  Although prices are down right now across Florida, states like Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama are generally going to be cheaper to top off your tank, DeHaan says.  GasBuddy.com is a website with a free app that directs you to the most affordable gas stations in your area. But DeHaan says as a general rule in the Southeast, the farther south you go the higher the gas prices get.  DeHaan says in Georgia into the Carolinas it can be anywhere from 10 to 15 cents cheaper per gallon than Florida. Gas Buddy can help you find the cheapest prices no matter where you go.
  • A Middleburg man has been found guilty of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and leaving the scene of a crash involving injury, after an incident involving his ex-girlfriend. The State Attorney's Office says Larry Jamison now faces a maximum of 15 years in Florida State Prison, after they say surveillance video showed the entire incident.  According to investigators, Jamison drove his car into his ex-girlfriend as she was walking to church back in February. Investigators say just after hitting her, he got out of his car and yelled at her, and then drove off.  He was then later found by police in the church and acting as if the incident hadn't happened.   Jamison's sentencing hearing has been set for the week of December 3rd.
  • A former Alabama nurse accused of poisoning her private investigator husband had a preliminary hearing Thursday, at which time the shocking details of the crime were revealed for the first time. Marjorie Nicole “Nikki” Cappello, 32, of Huntsville, is charged with murder in the September death of her husband, New York native Jim Cappello Jr. AL.com reported that Jim Cappello, who was reported missing by his wife, was found dead at the couple’s south Huntsville home Sept. 22.  The registered nurse surrendered her license six days later, Alabama Board of Nursing records show.  Nikki Cappello, who jail records show is out on $100,000 bond, waived her right to appear at the preliminary hearing, but members of Jim Cappello’s family were in the courtroom as prosecutors and investigators laid out their case.  >> Read more trending news “Honestly, the family gets a lot of respect from me,” Assistant Madison County District Attorney Tim Douthit told WAFF 48 News. “I don't know if I would be able to sit there and listen to all of that and keep a straight face the way that they did. The evidence that came out today was pretty clear and horrendous.” Lead investigator Mike DeNoon testified Thursday that the investigation showed Jim Cappello, 37, had become suspicious that his wife was abusing narcotics. According to WAFF, he had begun gathering evidence against her, so he could file for divorce and obtain custody of their 4-year-old daughter, Ryleigh. According to his LinkedIn profile, Jim Cappello worked for Posey Investigations for several years before opening his own business, Cappello Investigative Agency, in 2012. DeNoon testified that Nikki Cappello reported her husband missing Sept. 21. The detective said that Jim Cappello’s co-workers had become concerned because he had not shown up for work. When they went to the couple’s home, however, Nikki Cappello would not let them inside, DeNoon said. Jim Cappello’s car was parked outside the house. According to WAFF, DeNoon testified that Nikki Cappello called a friend, Crystal Anderson, the following day and admitted she had killed her husband with insulin. Anderson told investigators that her friend asked her to come and help her get rid of the body. DeNoon said that Nikki Cappello put Anderson on hold for a few moments before returning to the line and telling her not to worry, that another friend was on the way to help her.  A concerned Anderson called police, WAFF reported. Police officials are trying to determine who the other friend was, the news station said.   A foul odor and a freshly dug grave Patrol officers were dispatched to the Cappello home, where one officer went to the front door and a second went around back, WAFF said. DeNoon testified that the officer at the front door smelled the odor of a dead body when Nikki Cappello answered the door. The officer around back found what appeared to be a freshly dug grave, DeNoon testified. The officers detained Nikki Cappello on the front porch and called detectives in.  WAFF reported that DeNoon, who was one of the investigators called to the scene, testified he also smelled the odor of human decomposition when he arrived. He said he asked a visibly nervous Nikki Cappello for permission to search her home. She gave permission for the investigators to search everywhere but the garage, the news station reported. DeNoon said Nikki Cappello was taken to the police station for questioning and he obtained a search warrant for the entire property. Jim Cappello’s body was found sprawled on a tarp on the garage floor, his feet on the floorboard of a car as though someone had tried to move him into the vehicle.  DeNoon told the court that the defendant acted as though nothing was wrong when she was told about the discovery, according to WAFF.  “You know I went inside. You know I found him, right?” DeNoon testified that he asked her.  “Yes, I knew he was there,” Nikki Cappello allegedly responded.  Though Jim Cappello’s final autopsy report is pending, the medical examiner told DeNoon the private detective was poisoned using insulin, WAFF reported.  DeNoon told the court that investigators went to the hospital where Nikki Cappello was a charge nurse and spoke to her co-workers, who said she often talked about her problems with her husband and said she would only be rid of him if he were dead, the news station said.  Hospital workers who looked through their medication supply found that some insulin was missing, WAFF reported. DeNoon said Nikki Cappello told him she’d accidentally brought a bottle of the diabetes drug home with her.  Jim Cappello apparently found the bottle and took a photo of it before texting the photo to a friend, WAFF said. At the time, he appeared not to know what the drug was.  Madison County District Judge Claude Hundley III ordered that the murder case go before a grand jury.  ‘Please make today like your last’ Jim Cappello’s obituary described him as an asset in multiple facets of his life, especially to the legal community. “He was an avid car enthusiast, passionate about helping people and providing for his family (was a) priority,” the obituary read. “Jim was a well-known proud father who cherished every smile and laugh from his baby girl.” Jim Cappello’s father and sister sat through Thursday’s testimony. Afterward, they told WAFF they felt it was important to be there, even though they had to come from out of state.  “It was pretty intense but I'm glad it’s going to move on,” Jim Cappello Sr. told the news station. 'We want to be part of the whole thing. He didn’t deserve this, but he deserves justice. He’s my son and I miss him.” The younger Jim Cappello’s sister, Jamie Weast, said she’s hopeful the family can get some closure through the legal process.  “He’s shining down on us right now. He’s with us every step of the way,” she said. “We’re doing everything that we're capable of every day to remember and honor him.” The family started a Facebook page, Legacy of James Cappello, for relatives and friends to share memories of him so Ryleigh, who is being cared for by the Cappello family, will remember her doting father. Many friends shared memories addressed directly to the little girl. “Your dad worked at McDonald’s during high school,” one man wrote. “Happy Meals included a Beany (sic) Baby doll. He used to complain about being surrounded by these furry toys. “Yet he fell in love with them when you came along. You were his hero. With or without fries.” Weast posted a text message her brother sent her on Mother’s Day, in which he said a friend’s mother had died and he was helping the friend out. He told her he was thinking of the people in his life and things happening to them. “So please make today like your last,” he wrote, according to Weast. “We don’t know. Enjoy it. And have everyone around you enjoy it. Love you so much. Can’t handle the thought of you not there.”  

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