Autumn 2009 Climate Report – Huntsville, AL

5 12 2009

I’ve once again compiled recorded temperature data to create this chart which plots both average and actual high/low temperatures during the months of October, November and the first week of December 2009. The data shows that, for the most part, October 2009 was below average for high temperatures – arriving at up to 19 degrees below normal at one point during the month. November, however, showed a rebound in temperatures – recording above average temperatures for the most part of the month. You may click on the graphic below to show a larger, more readily readable version of it.

Autumn 2009 Climate Report - Huntsville, AL

Data was recorded at the Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, AL. Please comment and describe any additional details you would like to see on future climate reports. I will be posting a climate report every 3 months until further notice. Any comments or suggestions? Post them. I will get back to you as soon as possible. Also, you may feel free to send me an email with the aforementioned suggestions if you want. My email can be accessed by clicking here.


Walk to 350 – Huntsville, AL

28 08 2009

Walk to 350

I am trying to organize a group to attend a walk in correlation with many around the world as we strive to reduce CO2 levels back down to 350. Thousands of people around the world are joining in the cause and I’m trying to help bring it home – bringing it here to Huntsville, AL. Consisting of a short walk around downtown and Big Spring Park and leading into food, drinks and entertainment as well as a visit to the museum of art, I want this to be a success! The tentative time is at 3pm on October 24th (the global ‘350’ day). I am looking for attendees or supporters – maybe a vendor or two or whatever you can help with. Email me if you’re interested in participating or helping!

Summer 2009 Climate Report – Huntsville, AL

19 08 2009

This post is a personal research project that I am evaluating. Over the course of 2 months, I have recorded the high and low temperatures at the weather station at the Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, AL. Along with the temperatures, I have also recorded the amount of rain which fell on which day – a visual aid in analyzing the temperature departures from normal (why was so and so day colder than the rest….look, it rained over an inch that day!).

Rainfall Amounts Per Day at Huntsville International Airport, Huntsville, AL - Summer 2009
Rainfall Amounts Per Day at the Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, AL (Summer 2009)

The summer seems to be a typical one – temperatures only straying from normal by a margin of more than 10 degrees only twice during the recorded dates. One was a heat wave which swept through the valley during Mid-to-Late June whereas we had a cold spell (or cool spell) during Late July. Rainfall during this period wasn’t spread out over the course of the period but rather came in bursts which left many reports of flash flooding in the area.

Recorded and Average Temperatures at Huntsville International Airport, Huntsville, AL - Summer2009
Recorded and Average Temperatures at the Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, AL (Summer 2009)


Tennessee Valley – The Time Bomb?

7 04 2009

You watch it all the time at the movies. Perhaps, you watch it on the news too. You hear about the disasters and the after-effects of them. They are earthquakes. If you are reading this blog and you are a resident of the Southeastern United States, then you are definately in the right region for a risk of a major quake. Given, we haven’t had a major earthquake in the Southeastern United States since 1812. Back then, they did not record the intensities of earthquakes on what is now the Richter Scale – instead, geologists take into account the damage that was left behind, the changes in the topography of the land, eye-witness accounts and other like factors. They estimated that the quake would have been classified as a “Mega-Quake” with an intensity of over 8.0.

Image displays the location of the New Madrid Fault Line.

The effects of the quake were so intense that the massive Mississippi River completely shifted course and Lakes (such as Lake Reelfoot, TN) were formed from massive sinkholes. Citizens several hundred miles from the massive quake’s epicenter felt the vibrations of the disaster, as far away as Illinois, Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky and Indiana. The intensity was so startling, that church bells in Boston, MA rang with the shockwaves from the massive quake. So is the quake a “once-in-a-lifetime” event? Perhaps. The average lifetime is 72 years and it happened 197 years ago – so we could be due for another giant quake.

Image displays both earthquakes of 1995 in CA and in 1895 in Missouri along the New Madrid Fault – the colors displayed are the damage spreads of each.

Not only do we have to worry about the New Madrid Fault – we also have, in our area, the Appalacian Fault and the Bermuda Fault. Areas in Northern Alabama (Huntsville, Anniston, Cullman, Florence, Athens, Scottsboro, Decatur) are particularly in the danger zone of the Appalacian Fault stretching southwest from the feet of the Appalacian Mountains. Although no “Massive” quakes have been recorded from the zone, hunderds of smaller quakes have happened. Usually 3-4 times a year, the zone in the northeastern 75 miles of the state recieve a weak earthquake, usually in the 2.0 – 3.5 range on the Richter Scale. This is not a large number, barely noticable to most and usually only causes minimal damage to perhaps windows, loose or unstable chimneys to name a couple. Just because a significant earthquake has not happened in northeast Alabama from the Appalacian Fault does not mean that it can’t — or won’t.

Image displays the number of confirmed earthquakes in the New Madrid Region only since 1974.

Slightly more prone to a larger quake are those persons whom dwell and reside in the southern extent of Alabama (Dothan, Greenville, Montgomery, Selma, Mobile) from a large grouping of fault lines known as the Bermuda Fault Zone. The area stretches from slightly south of Birmingham, AL southward into the Florida Panhandle. Several quakes are recorded each year – ranging from 2.0 all the way up to 4.5 (as in the case of the earthquake just to the east of Birmingham not too long ago).

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image displays the spread of damage extending far from the epicenter.

Although the worst case scenario would likely be a quake much like the one of 1812, quakes of that intensity are rare and infrequent. Residents of the Tennessee Valley shouldn’t move out of the southeast just because of the earthquake “potential”, you’ll find that anywhere. Remember, if you get woke up at night because your house is vibrating, it’s likely just a small and common quake (or your spouse is REALLY putting too much time into mechanical engineering). I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you like it, please pass it on and comment on it. I would greatly appreciate it.

Derrick Wales


Severe Weather Photos – 28 March 2009

3 04 2009