Sunday Story: A double treat of Sunsets and Jet Contrails!

Forecast_Template - 2019-11-10T074651.132

What a nice day we have in store for us! Make sure you enjoy this beautiful weather today.

The good news is that our next big storm system has slowed to the point that it looks like we have a nice Veteran’s Day in store for us, too! The winds may be picking up, but I think the daylight hours of Monday will stay dry. That bodes well with all the Veteran’s Day activities planned, esp those planned in the morning.

Then, as darkness falls, clouds will thicken and raindrops will start falling. Our next storm system will bring rain showers until about midnight Monday. Then, the raindrops will turn to snow flakes. Snow showers should continue right on into Tuesday morning. I wouldn’t be surprised to see flurries through the afternoon. Total snow accumulation could reach as much as one inch, esp on grassy areas.

Tuesday will be the coldest day we’ve seen in some time. North winds of up to 20 mph, along with highs generally in the 20s, will make you think it’s the middle of January instead of the middle of November. Be ready to bundle up!

On Tuesday night the temps take an even bigger plunge. After barely getting to 30 degrees for a high on Tuesday (if we even do that), we’ll see temps drop into the low to mid teens by Wednesday morning, with clearing skies.

We should finally warm back up to the 40s by Thursday.

And now…..your Sunday Story!

As you may have noticed, last week’s Sunday Story didn’t publish. I was at the rocket launch and forgot to share the week’s Sunday Story. Therefore, today you get two!!! What a treat, right?

I hope you enjoy!


One of the best things about autumn is the sunsets. There’s just something special about the day ending with a spectacular explosion of color on that western horizon. 

One of the things that make for brilliant sunsets is some type of particulate in the air that scatters the sun’s light in such a way to create colors. 

Small water vapor droplets are often the best at making good sunsets. The small water droplets scatter the sun’s light in such a way that reds and oranges dominate. These are the sunsets that nearly make your jaw drop with awe. 

The scattering of the light is called Rayleigh scattering. That same principle is why the sky so often looks blue. In the daytime, the sun is higher in the sky and beaming straight down. This allows the sun’s waves to travel shorter distances through the atmosphere. This is shortwave radiation and it favors the scattering of blue light. 

As the sun sinks lower in the sky, the wavelengths of light from the sun gets longer and pass through more of the Earth’s atmosphere. This causes the particulates in the atmosphere to scatter the setting sun’s light in many directions, causing us to see different colors of light.  

Weather lore states that a red sky at night is a sailor’s delight. There is often truth in this saying, in that the evening sun’s colorful display is likely resulting from the sun’s light scattering off water vapor that is moving away from the area, likely setting the stage for a nice day ahead. 

Take a moment to enjoy the sunset. “Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting,” Richard Paul Evans.


Many of us are familiar with cumulus, cirrus, and stratus clouds but there is another type of cloud that is the result of aircraft in our skies.

Contrails form as the result of hot and humid air from a jet’s exhaust mixing with the air around it. This is similar to the process that creates the cloud you see when you exhale in cold air. As long as the humidity is high enough to support the clouds in the contrail, the contrails will remain in the sky.

The Cumberland Plateau is in a geographic position that causes us to be frequented by contrails, as we lie beneath major airline flight paths that connect major US cities. 

Contrails certainly make for some beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but they also have other impacts. They can affect our temperature by blocking sunlight, especially if the sky becomes crowded with them. At night, they can keep us warmer by preventing all of the Earth’s heat from escaping to space at night. 

Contrails can give us clues about moisture content in the atmosphere. If they disappear as suddenly as they are produced, we know the air in the highest altitudes is dry. The longer they remain, the more moist we know those upper levels are. Moisture often increases in the upper-levels of the atmosphere ahead of a storm system. Therefore, one can observe contrails for clues of an incoming storm system. 

A social media follower of mine from New Hampshire once remarked at how odd a sky with contrails must be. Planes don’t fly over that state as often, leaving their skies void of contrails.  

So, the next time you notice several contrails in the sky keep in mind that they may be signaling the coming of our next storm system.

Please note: I received this response from a reader of my story on contrails in the Fentress Courier. I’ll share that comment, as well as my response, below. I’ll exclude their name.

“Read your article in the Fentress Courier, Wed, Nov 6, on what you call “Contrails”. What a load of political bs…How does it feel to be a government shill? I guess that’s your job, unless you truly believe what you wrote, and then it just makes you incredibly ignorant. What you are describing in the article are CHEMtrails. As in C-H-E-M-I-C-A-L trails, loaded with all kinds of goodies like boron and aluminum and other things that cause respiratory distress or even blood clots. But, as well all know, quoting from Stalin, repeat lies often enough and they become the truth. You know they will kill you too, don’t think lies make you immune.”   (NOTE: Stalin didn’t say that. Hitler first referred to this principle in Mein Kampf, though Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda for Nazi Germany, is most noted for the saying.)

My response.

“I’m so sorry you feel this way, and I’m sorry you believe the chem trail ideas. I don’t repeat lies…I repeat science. As for being a “government shill”… I had to chuckle at that one. I suppose scientists have been called worse. Next time you breathe into cold air and your breath makes a fog, don’t get paranoid. It’s not the government. Just like the planes, it’s just your hot exhaust mixing with cold air. Nothing more. Have a good day and God bless ya.”



Calm before the storm

Forecast_Template - 2019-11-09T073249.690

Weather Headlines

–Beautiful weather for the next couple of days (calm before the storm)

–Veterans Day is looking mostly dry, with overnight rain likely

–Rain changing to light snow Monday night. Light accumulation possible.

–Tuesday looks blustery and very cold w/ flurries and snow showers

Main threats

The cold air coming next week is unlike anything we’ve seen since last winter. Make sure everything at your home is winterized and that your outdoor pets are prepared. Make sure your elderly or other “at risk” neighbors know of the coming cold and make sure they are also prepared. This nice weekend is a good opportunity to get everything ready for not only next week’s temperatures, but for the coming winter months.


We’ve got a nice weekend in store for us, though it will be a bit chilly. Just enjoy that beautiful sunshine!

Our cold front for Monday has slowed down and it now looks like at least the first half of the day will be dry. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rain holds off until after dark. So, Veteran’s Day activities should be in good shape!


The bottom drops out on us Monday night. We’ll see rain develop ahead of a very strong, arctic cold front. As cold air rushes in behind the front, we’ll see the rain transition to snow. That light snow/snow shower activity will likely continue into at least the first half of Tuesday.  Total snow accumulation could reach one inch on grassy areas. Stay tuned for updates on that, though.

Some models want to bring another chance for precip at the end of the week and others do not. I’ll keep an eye on that.


Forecast_Template - 2019-11-09T073624.294

Baldwin’s 7-Day forecast

Forecast_Template - 2019-11-09T073100.900


Today is the anniversary of the November 9, 2002 tornado that hit Cumberland County so very hard. The Lake Tansi community was hardest hit, with four fatalities. This remains one of the worst autumn tornado outbreaks in Middle Tennessee history. The severe weather followed a record high in Crossville of 75 degrees that day.

This is the official NWS storm write-up for the Lake Tansi tornado….

“An F3 tornado struck the Lake Tansi area and the southern sections of Crossville Sunday night, killing 4 people and injuring 18. 33 homes and mobile were destroyed and 128 homes and mobile homes were damaged. There was damage to one public building. The heaviest damage was along Lantana Drive, Dunbar Road, and Pigeon Ridge Road. 5 homes were damaged on U.S. Highway 127 and just south of Three Creek Road. One well built home lost an entire roof and several walls. The couple, their 3 children, and a guest, huddled under a mattress in the hallway. 50 acres of hardwoods were twisted and tangled. 100-year-old oak trees were snapped like wheat straws. Mobile homes on the Ballyhoo Campground and modular homes in Lake Tansi were destroyed. The four fatalities occurred in mobile homes. A couple was killed at 298 Lantana Drive when their mobile home was lifted off its foundation and placed on another trailer. Edward, 80 and Mary Laffer 75 were killed. Another couple died at 4040 Lone Wolf Circle. Robert, 55 and Sandy Scarbrough, 52, were killed and their bodies were found across Lake Mohawk.”

It is also worth noting that a tornado earlier in the evening hit the Crab Orchard community. The F-1 blew a tractor trailer truck on its side.



Today’s WeatherTAP WeatherWORD

Monkey’s Wedding

In South African slang, this is a “sun-shower”, or a period of alternating sunshine and rain showers. It is unclear where this phrase originates but it may stem from the phrase “monkey’s wedding-breakfast”, implying a state of confusion.

WeatherTAP WeatherFACT

Weather lore says that if you have rain and sunshine at the same time, it will rain at the exact same time the next day. That’s something for you to test the next time you see that! (ha)

NASA Knowledge

I had an absolute blast last evening talking with the girl scouts at Lake Tansi. They were doing a space-themed party and I was invited to give a talk in the evening. Following my talk, we went outside to look for things through telescopes that had been set up. Those are some very smart girl scouts and I was impressed with their questions and comments.

I told them of how women only make up about 11% of all space explorers and they did not like that at all! (ha) I told them to get out there and change that. Their eyes lit up when I told them that a woman will walk on the moon the next time we go and I asked them what her first lunar words should be. One girl, absolutely grinning from ear to ear, said, “That’s one small step for a girl!”

They also LOVED my new NASA jacket with the patches. Some said that was the coolest jacket they had ever seen. Tell me something I don’t know, girls. (LOL)

And yes…I’m still waiting to hear if I got the NASA Social for the SpaceX launch coming December 4. I’ve been told there were 650 applicants, though, so it may take a bit of time. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear.


Winter storm watches and advisories cover the state of Montana, as several inches of snow could fall this weekend.

Air quality alerts continue for the Pacific Northwest.

Gusty winds and very low humidity will create dangerous fire weather conditions today for western Nebraska and western Kansas. Folks are urged to be very careful not to start fires.

You all have a great Saturday!


Forecast_Template - 2019-11-09T073100.900

An arctic blast is coming


Weather Headlines

–A cold Friday will be followed by a warming weekend with sunshine

–Big storm system arrives Monday, bringing light rain and snow to the plateau

–Light snow is possible Monday night and Tuesday (1″ or less)

–Bitter cold air to settle into the region for next week

Main threats

Light wintry precip Monday night and Tuesday morning could lead to some slick spots. It just depends on how much moisture we can squeeze from the bitter cold air. Accumulations of around one inch of snow look possible.

The bigger headline next week is the bitter cold air. It’s been a while since we’ve seen low temps in the teens. Go ahead and make sure your neighbors-in-need are ready for the cold, that your pets have adequate shelter, and that your pipes are ready for winter.


Skies will become mostly sunny as we go through the day. That sun will do little to warm us, though, as highs struggle to reach the 40-degree mark today.

The weekend will feature more sunny skies and warming temperatures. Still, it will certainly be jacket weather for most.

Then, the well-advertised arctic cold front arrives Monday evening. This is the first arctic blast of the season and you are REALLY going to feel it. As if the cold temperatures coming weren’t enough, there should be some very breezy winds along with that too.

As that cold air moves in and the northwest winds interact with our southwest to northeast-oriented plateau, we will likely see some snow showers. As temps fall into the 20s, some slick spots could develop on area roads. Overall, accumulations look very light but this does look to be our first light snow event of the season. Stay tuned for updates.



Baldwin’s 7-Day forecast



A blizzard with hurricane-like winds struck the Great Lakes on this day in 1913. This storm would be the deadliest and most damaging natural disaster in modern history for the Great Lakes. From November 7-13th, 19 ships sank and another 19 were stranded.  The death toll was 235.

Throughout the storm, the region was battered with 90 mph winds. Waves on the Great Lakes reached heights of 35 feet. It’s no wonder that 106 years later this remains the worst natural disaster to ever strike that region.


Shhhh…don’t wake it up.

Today’s WeatherTAP WeatherWORD

White Hurricane

The name given to the great storm of 1913 that struck the Great Lakes region. As two storm systems merged over the region, the barometric pressure dropped to that of a hurricane. This led to hurricane-force winds. With temperatures below freezing, the precipitation fell as ice and snow, thus leading to the term “white hurricane.”

WeatherTAP WeatherFACT

Storms such as the 1913 storm are actually what ultimately led to the birth of the National Weather Service. Fierce storms in that region of the country took a toll on shipping routes. The need for a warning service of some type was realized and the US Signal Corps was developed for just such warnings. Today, we know that as the National Weather Service.

NASA Knowledge

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured a very cool picture of a remote galaxy. The picture is split into multiple images by an effect known as gravitational lensing. That means the foreground galaxy cluster is so massive that its gravity distorts the fabric of space-time, bending and magnifying the light from the more distant galaxy behind it. Am I the only totally geeking out right now?! How cool is that?!

This whole process creates a “funhouse mirror”, so to speak, creating multiple images of the same galaxy while stretching the background image (if that makes sense?). Anyway, check out the picture!

The Sunburst Arc

Today is an anxious day for me. Several weeks ago I applied for a NASA Social for the December 4 launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch at Cape Canaveral. Yesterday, people started posting on social media that they had gotten word they had not been accepted. Those letters are the worst, and I feel for those who got them.

I haven’t heard a thing…yet. So, I’ll be anxiously checking my email about a billion times today. I’ll let you know what I hear!


Freeze warnings stretch from central Mississippi to coastal North Carolina for tonight. They will see the end of their growing season tonight, as temperatures plunge below freezing.

Air stagnation warnings remain in effect for the Pacific Northwest. Folks are advised to not burn outdoors and to limit any indoor wood burning, as the smoke will only make air quality worse.

A few counties in northwest Michigan remain under winter storm warnings for Lake-Effect snow.

Parts of Wyoming are under high wind warnings for tonight. West winds could gust to 60 mph.


You all have a great day!