Three Important News Stories from Kansas

Here are four stories that I believe are worth bringing to you.

Moving the federal animal disease research lab for the Department of Homeland Security from New York to Kansas. There are pros and cons about the move as the article states. If the building is sufficiently hardened (the current building in NY is not), then I’m fine with the move. I am struck by the fact the federal government has spent between $30,000,000 and $40,000,000 on site selection alone. I don’t even know how that is possible! What a waste of our dollars. 

In 2012, Kansas will be #1 in new wind power construction. I wish I thought that was a good thing. 

The new tornado and “world’s largest hand-dug well” museum in Greensburg is coming along nicely. Unfortunately, they do not expect to have it finished by May 4, which is the fifth anniversary of the devastating F-5 tornado. Hopefully, it will be done by the Memorial Day weekend. 

More on the Predicted Winter Storm in the Plains

Here is the forecast snow/rain radar for 9pm Monday evening:

Winterized radar at 9pm Monday evening.
Blue arrows = thunderstorms. Purple = heavy snow. Click to enlarge. 

And, for 6am Tuesday

6am Tuesday. Same legend as above.
Note the precipitation in northern Kansas is rain, not snow. 

And, total snow amounts (click to enlarge):

Click to enlarge.

The snow associated with the first of the week storm extends from northeast New Mexico to near KC then east to between the Ohio River and Great Lakes. Legend at right.

The first snow of the season often causes more than its share of troubles, so prepare accordingly.

AccuWeather has been all over this one: Great work, Guys! Thanks to Ryan Maue for the nice graphic depiction of the computer models.

Thanks, Bookshelf!

Just got back from a very successful book signing at The Bookshelf in McPherson.

McPherson is a pretty small Kansas town with a busy downtown.

Linda and crew did a great job of planning and holding the book signing. It was wonderful seeing long-time friends and making new ones.

One of the most gratifying moments was having a Warnings reader who so enjoyed the book he purchased six more for Christmas gifts!


Taking a moment to catch up today…

Here is a first-hand account of the Indy stage collapse that is well worth reading, especially on aspects of social media in covering the disaster.

On much lighter notes…

The 10 Dumbest Restaurant Laws. None are in Kansas.

Speaking of Kansas, got to walk through the almost finished Drury Broadview Hotel in downtown Wichita. They have done a wonderful job with the restoration. If you like a historic hotel, please consider it the next time you are in town.

Is there a better restaurant value anywhere in the U.S. than then Grand Central Hotel and Cafe in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas?  For lunch yesterday, I had a bowl of their wonderful beans and rice soup along with a cobb salad with huge chucks of tasty real steak. Total tab before tip?  $8.12.  The Grand Central has a Four Diamond rating and if you are anywhere in the region, well worth a visit.

Finally, the first-ever “non-human” disc jockey makes “her” debut in San Antonio tomorrow.

Jack’s Stack Bar-B-Que

Kathleen told me that radio talk show host Laura Ingraham visited Kansas City on her book tour earlier this week and visited Jack’s Stack Bar-B-Que and raved about it. Jack’s Stack is my favorite bar-b-que anywhere. So, if you are in KC or if you wish to order some delivered to your town it gets 5-stars from me.

Three Perfect Days in Wichita

With the High Plains Conference rapidly approaching and with news that the Midwest Family Conference is being held in Wichita the same time (first weekend in August), I thought it might be a good idea to repeat my “Three Perfect Days in Wichita” feature from a few months ago.

Day One is here.

Day Two, visiting the Flint Hills, is here.

Day Three is here.

I also want to add a word about the Sedgwick County Zoo, which surprises many to learn is the 18th largest in the U.S. and one of the most highly acclaimed. There are a lot of interactive features and, if you have children, they’ll love it!

It will be great having you in Wichita for either of the conferences or at any time!

Cloud Seeding Fading Away?

The Wichita Eagle has a good story, via the Associated Press, about the shrinking cloud seeding program in western Kansas.

The most serious problem with cloud seeding is that, at best, it can increase rainfall by roughly 10% over what would have fallen anyway. Meaning, if zero rain would naturally fall, seeding cannot help.

Here is the weather satellite photo with 5pm temperatures. Some areas have had highs above 115° this afternoon. See any rain clouds in the Kansas portion of the photo (where the cloud seeding program is conducted)? Even though rain is desperately needed, there are zero clouds to seed.

Cloud seeding, outside of mountain areas, where the meteorological dynamics of rain and hail are very different has been controversial since its beginnings. I’ve never had any problems with cloud seeding but I question whether the cost/benefit of the additional rain and lessened hail is sufficient for it to continue.

The Long-Delayed Storm Chase Post

Things didn’t work out quite the way I had hoped on several levels…

The Weather

The storms I was predicting didn’t materialize as I predicted. There was one storm in our target area that looked promising. We (blue symbol) thought we would be able to intercept it north of Dodge City.

We got to the target area but the storm fell apart rather than intensifying.

The other storms started falling apart.

So, we decided to make the best of it.

The Attractions

McD’s is really pushing their new frozen strawberry lemonades.

And, we stopped to look at one of Kansas’ quirky roadside attractions.

Had dinner in Greensburg and toured the amazing town before heading back to Wichita. Even though I was tired when I got home at midnight, I wanted to get this posted since it was delayed. Well, wouldn’t you know…  Google’s Blogger system was down.

So, sorry for the delay. We’ll try it again this spring and, hopefully, I’ll do a better job of forecasting.

A Very Special Evening To Preserve Our Western Heritage

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play

Probably everyone in America has heard “Home on the Range” at one time or another. Tonight, at the Prairie Rose in Benton, KS, there was a benefit to preserve the cabin in Smith County, Kansas, where Brewster Higley wrote the song in 1872. The special guest was Michael Martin Murphey who recorded the song with Tammy Wynette and got a gold record from it. It is available from iTunes.

How often at night when the heavens are bright
with the light from the glittering stars...

After a wonderful cowboy dinner (yes, there were chuckwagon beans) there was an auction auction of memorabilia relating to the West, the cabin, and song.

A ten gallon hat autographed by Miranda Lambert being auctioned.
Michael Martin Murphey performing “Home on the Range”

After that, the Prairie Rose Rangers performed some of their great songs.  Then, the special guest of the evening, Michael Martin Murphy, came out and performed “Home on the Range” with the crowd singing along. It is the state song of Kansas. He played some other traditional cowboy songs then took requests.

Have I stood there amazed and asked, as I gazed
if their glory exceeds that of ours

As Kathleen and I walked out into the cool, cloudless Kansas night we talked about how lucky were are to have this heritage and hope the cabin and its history can be restored (note: this is entirely a private, non-governmental effort).

The cabin as it is today. 

The background on this effort is here. If you would like to contribute, please send a check to the Ellen Rust Living Trust, 213 W. New York Street, Smith Center, Kansas  66967.

And, for a great evening of cowboy entertainment and living western history, please visit the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon and museum. It was our first visit and we were thoroughly impressed. Prairie Rose is a remarkable, privately owned entertainment facility, restaurant, and museum (part of which is outdoors) all rolled into one.

Mr. Murphey will be performing with his band this weekend and they are having their annual Western Days festival complete with horseback rides, etc., etc. The weather should be wonderful for the outdoor events.

ADDITION:  Here is a report along with video of Mr. Murphey singing “Home on the Range” in front of the cabin. This is THE home on the range that inspired the song.

"Warnings" With a Future Miss Kansas

I recently became acquainted with Ms. Caitlyn (“Cat”) Taylor, a meteorology student at the University of Oklahoma, my alma mater. She is the current Miss Rose Hill and will be competing in the Miss Kansas Pageant in June.

She read Warnings when it first came out and told me she is reading it again prior to the pageant because it inspires her.

In addition to being a budding meteorologist, Cat is also a storm chaser. Thursday, she and friends were chasing the devastating tornadoes in southeast Oklahoma and turned into first responders when they came upon the hard-hit town of Tushka. She and her friends literally pulled people from wreckage and got them aid. I’m very proud of her. She very much represents the next generation of meteorologist I hoped to inspire by writing Warnings. 

I took these photos for an ad for Warnings and Mike Smith Enterprises LLC, for the Miss Kansas Pageant program. Her “platform” is weather safety. I can’t think of a better woman to represent our state.

If you would like to be inspired like Cat, click here to order your copy of Warnings. 

Two Commemorations

Allan Eustis reminds me that on this date in 1934 the anemometer at Mt. Washington New Hampshire measured a wind gust of 231 mph. That is the highest direct instrumental measurement of wind in world history.

And, in Washington, D.C., Vice President Biden honored former Kansas Senator Bob Dole for Senator Dole’s commitment to America’s veterans and, in particular, his efforts to get the WWII Memorial built. As you know, Sen. Dole suffered terrible injuries in that war. It only through his extreme tenacity and the support of his friends and family in Russell, Kansas, that he was able to flourish in spite of his injuries.  The full story of today’s ceremony is here.

Restoring the "Home on the Range" Cabin

Oh, give me a home,
Where the buffalo roam,
And the deer and the antelope play

Where seldom is heard,
A discouraging word,
And, the skies are not cloudy all day.

In 1872, Brewster Higley wrote what would become “Home on the Range,” the state song of Kansas. I have written about that song twice, here and here.

Photo by “The Wichita Eagle”

There is now a campaign to restore the cabin. If you would like to donate, please send your check to:

Ellen Rust Living Trust
c/o Prairie Rose Ranch
15231 SW Parallel Road
Benton, KS  67017