Wind Power to Replace Boeing?

As many know, Boeing made a decision to wind down its Wichita operation by the end of 2013. Boeing has been part of Wichita for 85 years and everyone here is taking it pretty hard.

As I said to one of Meteorological Musings’ commenters, I’m certain Wichita will continue to grow and prosper. However, one odd idea that has been floated is to go after wind energy companies to replace the jobs lost from Boeing.

Long-time readers of the blog know that I do not believe wind energy has a long-term future except for niche uses. Now, comes a report from Great Britain that states,

A study in the Netherlands found that turning back-up gas power stations on and off to cover spells when there is little wind actually produces more carbon than a steady supply of energy from an efficient modern gas station.
The research is cited in a new report by the Civitas think tank which warns that Britain is in danger of producing more carbon dioxide (CO2) than necessary if the grid relies too much on wind.
Wind turbines only produce energy around 30 per cent of the time. When the wind is not blowing – or even blowing too fast as in the recent storms – other sources of electricity have to be used, mostly gas and coal.

Given Wichita’s location at the geographic center of the U.S. and near the population center of the U.S., there are many companies that would be smart to locate here. We have great people and a wonderful standard of living with a low cost of living. Check us out!


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.

High Plains Conference a Huge Success

The 2011 High Plains Conference is now history and it was a tremendous success with meteorologists and weather aficionados from across the U.S. attending. While there was a great variety of scientific papers presented, three themes emerged: dual polarization (DP) radar and tornadoes, DP radar and highly destructive giant (≥ 4″ hail), and protection of livestock in extreme heat. 

Don Burgess’ report on tornadoes made the Wichita Eagle
Coincidentally, the Wall Street Journal had a story about giant hail Friday. 
Vanessa Pearce and Brad Ketcham putting up the sign to the “meet and greet”
The final event was the storm chaser “meet and greet” held this afternoon which allowed dozens of people interested in storm chasing to meet the chasers and see their equipment. 
One of the things I enjoyed most about the conference was seeing the future meteorologists sitting in and learning about weather and meteorology as well as meeting the storm chasers. 
Many people came by the Mike Smith Enterprises table and took advantage of the opportunity to meet marketing director Mindy Cook and intern Cat Taylor.
Cat Taylor (left) and Mindy Cook
Next year’s conference will be held in Hastings, Nebraska. 
I also want to thank the Wichita Marriott for being such gracious hosts. 

Mother Nature Put on Quite a Show Tonight

My estimate of 65 mph (below) turned out to be pretty good: Jabara Airport (far northeast Wichita) had a peak gust of 69 mph. Here is the Westar Energy Outage Map at 11pm:

13,501 “customers” (homes and businesses = roughly 40,000 people) are without power in the blue, purple, and yellow-shaded areas. The trail of dots just north of I-35 seems to correspond to the strongest winds indicated by Doppler radar.  There is also some roof damage, the crossing gates blown off a BNSF Railway crossing in south Wichita, etc. 
In Warnings, I talk about how language “inverts” when meteorologists talk about storms. A storm like tonight’s is talked about with terms like, “what a show!” and “tremendous storm” (a good thing!). So, let me speak to both groups visiting Wichita this weekend:
  • For those from outside the region that are here for the High Plains Conference: Welcome to Wichita! Mother Nature put on a great show for you. 
  • For those arriving for the Midwest Family Conference (also being held here this weekend), sorry for any inconvenience and sorry if the storm frightened you. 
And, if you want to get out of the heat and humidity, come and join us — starting at noon tomorrow — at the Wichita Marriott (Webb Rd. and U.S. 54) for the High Plains Conference. All you need is an interest in Weather. I’m the keynote speaker. 

Tropical Storm Don: Just What the Doctor Ordered?

AccuWeather has details on Tropical Storm Don which is likely to move into Texas Friday evening. Don is likely to cause heavy rain, which is desperately needed, in south Texas. Wind speeds will probably not be high enough to cause major damage.

Speaking of the heat and drought, have you noticed that when NYC and D.C. were above 100° last week it led the national news? Now, while much of the central and southern U.S. continue to broil, it is off the front pages. But, the effects of the drought and heat in the central U.S. will likely be more significant than the heat in the East.

Wichita Eagle photo of Harper Co., Kansas cornfield.
Photo by Fernando Salazar

I have driven, extensively, in Kansas, southeast Nebraska, and along the I-35 corridor in Oklahoma south to Dallas. I’ve never seen the crops in worse shape to the south of I-70. It is likely the drought will bring higher food prices.

And, at the Wichita airport, a partial failure of the air conditioning system is keeping things warm. Dress accordingly if you are going to be waiting for a plane there the next few days.

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!

The Heat Moves One State North

After reaching 110° in Oklahoma City yesterday, the core of the heatwave moved north on I-35 today. Wichita and Hutchinson, KS both reached 111° so far this afternoon.

First time since 1980 it is has been this hot in Wichita.

Hat tip: National Weather Service

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Tonight is the Night!

The three of us are very excited. Really looking forward meeting everyone and discussing storms and storm safety. Reminder: We have twenty posters that we will personally autograph for people who purchase all three books at the greatly reduced price of $60.

The Wichita Eagle has a preview

We welcome and look forward to your questions. We’re bringing note cards and pens for questions. Jenna is going to pass her cowboy hat around to collect the questions (that way no one has to be reluctant to ask a question they might be worried is silly).

See you tonight at Watermark Books!

Great Time Tonight

We had a terrific time at the book signing this evening.

Yours truly and Natalie Huenergardt, the marketing assistant
for Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC

I autographed the remaining books, so if you’d like an autographed copy the Barnes & Noble at Bradley Fair in Wichita can fix you right up. And, a new store opened tonight right across the parking lot:

The women of Wichita are thrilled!

Congratulations, Shockers!

Congratulations to the Wichita State University Shockers for making it to the finals of the National Invitational Tournament! They defeated Washington State 75-44.

They will play Alabama for the NIT championship in Madison Square Garden tomorrow evening at 6pm Central time. The game is on ESPN2.

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Sweet News!

If you have read my “Three Perfect Days” in Wichita series, you know that on Day One, I recommend a visit to Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates. Their chocolates and other treats are out of this world.

Happy to report that they were just named a national “Blue Ribbon Small Business Award®” winner by the United States Chamber of Commerce.  Congratulations Beth and everyone at Cocoa Dolce!

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Terrific News for Wichita…and, the United States

The Air Force’s KC-135 tankers were first built in 1957, yet they are still the mainstay of the United States’ aerial tanker fleet. For ten long years, the Air Force has been trying to get them replaced with a modern aircraft.

Boeing artist conception via AP and “The Wichita Eagle”

Today, the contract, the largest defense contract in history, was awarded to Boeing. Much of the work will be done in Wichita at Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems. It means 7,500 Wichita-area jobs, according to The Wichita Eagle. 

Congratulations to all!

Countryman’s Kansas

I’ll be appearing on “Countryman’s Kansas” with Gene Countryman tomorrow (Sunday) from 6 until 8pm. In Wichita, the program airs on 1330 KNSS Radio. We’ll be talking about Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather and severe weather safety in Kansas and surrounding states.

For those outside of Kansas and northern Oklahoma, you may listen via the internet by clicking here.

Today is Kansas’ 150th Birthday

Today is the 150th anniversary of Kansas’ statehood.
I am not a native Kansan and, until I moved here,  I assumed that Kansas was “boring.” The “Wizard of Oz” has done a great deal to harm Kansas’ image and I bought into it.
I could not have been more wrong.
Kansas: The “Sunflower State”
The best part of Kansas is its people. Straightfoward, modest (often to a fault), unwaiveringly friendly, patriotic, and independent. Want an example? Just yesterday, Kathleen was reading the Wichita Eagle’s obituaries and this was published without any fanfare whatsoever:
Canzoneri, Helen Mary (Zimmerman), 97, died on November 18, 2010 at Larksfield Place. She was raised in Sterling and graduated from high school there. She earned her B.A. Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University and an M.A. in Japanese history from Harvard University. She met her husband, Vincent, while working on her doctorate in Japan. The couple returned to marry in Sterling in 1936, then lived in Tokyo until September of 1941. During World War II, she taught Japanese at the Navy Language School and worked as a censor of Japanese mail in Honolulu, where Vincent served in Navy Intelligence. She raised three sons in Newton, where she was president of the Library board and, at the request of local parents, taught a pre-college enrichment course for high school students. She moved to Wichita in 1971, where her husband was an executive at Ross Industries. In Wichita, she taught weaving, helped to run the Blue Warp weaving shop, and served on the acquisitions committee of the Wichita Art Museum.
What an amazing life!
I know so many Kansans that have done similar amazing things, but they don’t boast about their accomplishments. Here, that is considered bad form.
Mesa in Kansas’ Gyp Hills
One aspect of an independent outlook is the ability to see things as they might be — which can lead to innovation. Think about the companies that have been started in just Wichita, not to mention the rest of the state:
  • Learjet
  • Koch Industries (world’s second largest privately-owned corporation)
  • Cessna
  • Beech Aircraft
  • Pizza Hut
  • White Castle
  • Coleman (outdoor products)
  • Ryan International Airlines
  • Rent-A-Center
  • Air Midwest
  • Mentholatum (deep heating rub)
  • Vickers Petroleum
In the last few years, I sense that Kansas is growing in respect. This is due primarily to the large number of articles documenting the quality of life/cost of living here, how “surprisingly hip” (Fast Company magazine) Wichita is, recent articles about Kansas as a vacation destination, etc. I believe our best days are ahead of us. If you do decide to make a visit, I can assure you will be warmly welcomed.
So, Happy Birthday, Kansas! There is no place like home. 


while, at the same time…
UPDATE: 2:53pm CST: Since posting the above, Wichita’s temperature has risen to 71°.
UPDATE:  Final high temperature was a record 72°!
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The Soup Sweetheart

One of the most iconic episodes of Seinfeld was “The Soup Nazi.” You might recall that Elaine’s knees buckled, the soup was so good.

In the late 1990′s and early 2000′s Wichita had its own soup restaurant, Tanya’s Soup Kitchen. Run by entrepreneur Tanya Tandoc, I had never been a patron until a friend urged me to try it. Turns out Tanya’s soups were knee-buckling good! In 2004, Tanya lost her lease and the restaurant closed.

Photo of Tanya (front) and her team.
Courtesy: The Wichita Eagle

Now, she is coming back at Phil Ruffin’s Sunburst Plaza at 1725. Her new restaurant is expected to open this spring. The entire story is here.

I’ll post when she reopens. And, the next time you are in town, you will want to stop by.

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