Another Broadcast For Slooh

The image at the top of this entry shows some of the asteroid’s movement through the sky. We captured this with Slooh’s telescope in Chile. You’re seeing an object the size of an aircraft carrier from millions of miles away!

I hosted another broadcast this morning PDT for Slooh.com. Near Earth Asteroid 2014 HQ124 won’t hit Earth, but it will be in the neighborhood the next few days. That’s good reason for us to go live.

The image at the top of this entry shows some of the asteroid’s movement through the sky. We captured this with Slooh’s telescope in Chile. You’re seeing an object the size of an aircraft carrier from millions of miles away!

After the broadcast I stopped to ponder our own technological achievement. We had participants on from the East and West Coast, plus England and Australia. We used images taken in Australia and Chile.

We had the right experts and pictures with lots of insight, coordinated in Hartford, CT where our producer/director sits.

We’re about to make a huge technological leap which should bring up the quality of our transmissions greatly. Noticeable change.

It’s all pretty exciting and, for me, nerdy fun.

How To Get Connecticut Snowfall Totals

Doppler Versus Snow

This time of year there’s a steady barrage of incoming messages looking for Connecticut snowfall totals. Some folks are curious. Others want to make sure their plow contractor isn’t overcharging, or they’re plow contractors who’d like to charge more!

The info isn’t easily obtained, especially for smaller towns. If you’re looking for Connecticut snowfall totals, here’s where I go.

The most complete source is the Connecticut Department of Transportation Weather Roundup. These are collected every two hours at DOT yards across Connecticut. Because of the methodology used the cumulative snowfall total is always more than what’s actually settled on the ground.

The National Weather Service splits Connecticut between three Weather Service Forecast Offices. That makes things more difficult. You’ll have to look at all three Public Information Statements to put the info together.

Shoreline counties: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Upton, NY.

Hartford, Tolland and Windham Counties: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Taunton, MA.

Litchfield County: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Albany, NY.

Snowfall and other weather data is often critical in accidents and contract disputes. For those more exacting cases when just numbers on paper (or a screen) aren’t enough I provide forensic meteorological services for attorneys and insurance companies.

The TV Model Is Broken

I love television. I’m a student of the media. It was incredibly important in shaping who I’ve become.

TV’s model is broken.

There were seven channels in NYC when I grew up. Most cities had less.

No remote control. No DVR or VCR. You watched it when it aired. If two shows you wanted to see aired simultaneously–tough.

In 1960, Gunsmoke finished the season in first place:

1 Gunsmoke CBS 40.3 rating 65 share

That’s 40% of all homes and 65% of those homes where the TV was turned on!

Last week’s number one entertainment show was “Big Bang Theory.” It had a 5.1 rating.

In those more innocent days you had to be careful not to get hit by the falling bags of money! Not today.

Before WTNH was sold in 1985, Geraldine Fabrikant wrote this in the New York Times:

The jewel in the ABC-Capital Cities package is WTNH-TV, the Capital Cities station affiliated with ABC, that covers the New Haven and Hartford markets. Its 1984 net revenue was $24.9 million, and operating income was $14.6 million. That meant operating profit margins of 58 percent. During the past five years, the margin has never been lower than 58 percent, and it has been as high as 62 percent.

They took in $25 million at 8 Elm Street for an operation that cost $10 million to run!

Those days are long gone. Though the broadcast networks and their affiliates are still the dominant force, their audience is a fraction of what it was.

Technology has been the difference. The pie has been sliced into many more smaller pieces.

Whether they take advantage or not, most people are currently equipped to see shows without benefit of television. We’ve got computers and tablets and smartphones and they’re all very capable of video playback.

I knew Saturday Night Live was going to be good last night because I read tweets from the East Coast. Why did I have to wait to see the show? Only because it breaks television’s business model!

The same with this afternoon’s Cowboys/Redskins game. It wasn’t on in SoCal. I wanted to see it and did… don’t ask. Free and easy access to all the games breaks television’s business model.

We need local TV. We need local news and other local programming (scant as it is), but won’t have it for long unless TV stations find a new business model.

I can see a future where shows will stand on their own without a station or network. Netflix productions are a step in that direction, but why do you even need Netflix?

TV’s current model is broken. The more viewers realize it, the harder it will be to hold back the tide.

Very Tiring Day

We are home.

Doppler, Helaine and I are on individual sofas. Each has a blanket or two. Two of us are prone.

No pity party. This is self imposed. It’s been a very long day.

2:45 am to sleep. Helaine’s alarm at 5:45a.

By 9:30a we had dropped off Stef, ditched the rental car (world’s bluest Dodge), and boarded our plane.

There is one non-stop to Hartford. It leaves early. She had middle seat down. I took middle seat back.

As we were walking through Bradley, Helaine noted how long it had been since we’d landed during daylight hours? Maybe never.

Luggage quick. Roncari, quick, efficient.

God, I loved the HOV lane this afternoon. We zipped down I-91 while the single riders stopped and went.

I am tired. We are tired. Even Doppler is tired.

We had a few days without thinking about the move. Now we begin the push. Under two weeks to go.

St Patrick’s Day Parade One

Because we were at the back of the line-of-march our wait was the longest. We watched other units return to their vehicles and drive home before we left the staging area.

St. Patrick must have been a cool guy. He gets two parades in Connecticut and his birthday is still a week away! Why do Hartford and New Haven hold their St. Patrick’s Day parades this weekend even though the actual St. Patrick’s Day is next Saturday? I have no clue!

The Hartford parade was this morning. FoxCT had a float (aka-flatbed truck with our air staff) going which meant a quick turnaround from last night’s 11:00 PM news.

I was home at 12:20 AM, in bed by 3:30 AM, awake at 7:45 AM and back at the station by 9:15 AM. That’s when hurry up and wait began.

Let’s face it, there is no monumental undertaking like a parade without some hurry up and wait. Because we were at the back of the line-of-march our wait was the longest. We watched other units return to their vehicles and drive home before we left the staging area.

As predicted it was cold! I arrived in Hartford with the temperature in the mid-30s and a chilling breeze.

Helaine found my “union suit,” red thermal underwear that covers shoulders to calves. Bless you Helaine.

Our float didn’t leave the Capitol until about 12:20. The streets were packed. I snapped photos while my colleagues threw plastic bead necklaces to the crowd.

We do it again Sunday in front of a larger crowd in New Haven. I’m ready.

The Women At Subway

“Kathmandu,” I asked? That’s the extent of my Nepalese knowledge.

They’ve opened a new Subway a block from work here in Hartford! All the freestanding buildings must be gone because this one is shoehorned into the convenience store that’s already shoehorned into the Mobil station. Judging by the inventory there are a lot of stoners nearby.

The women behind the counter looked West Asian to me. They have an interesting accent–difficult to pin.

“Where are you from,” I asked?

Are you supposed to do that? I’m just inherently curious.

The answer was Nepal.

“Kathmandu,” I asked? That’s the extent of my Nepalese knowledge.

Turns out they’re from Dhulikhel. I hadn’t heard of it either. One of the women spelled it, then when I couldn’t quite understand her pronunciation of the individual letters, wrote it out.

That was enough for a Google search on my phone and the photo you see on the right. There are fewer than 20,000 people in Dhulikhel, but it’s got a Wikipedia entry!

They gave me a few more towns to search. I did when I got back to my desk.

I love this about America. We are from everywhere.

Imagine what cultural shock you must go through making the transition from Dhulikhel to Hartford. Could two places be more different?

“Why did you come to Hartford,” I asked?

Neither seemed to know.

The Saddest Train

I’ve lived in Connecticut over a quarter century and no one’s ever told me they’ve ridden this train!

The Hartford Courant/FoxCT building is adjacent to a railroad track. Every day we see freight and passenger trains lumber by on their way to-and-from Hartford’s Union Station.

The saddest of the passersby is the little train that runs between New Haven and Springfield. It consists of an engine and two passenger cars. I’ve gotten to where I recognize the car and locomotive numbers. There’s probably only one of these trainsets going up-and-back every day.

It’s thinly traveled. I’ve lived in Connecticut over a quarter century and no one’s ever told me they’ve ridden this train!

Here it is going through the Flower Street crossing in Hartford. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

Cool Hartford Time Lapse Video

This afternoon I asked our FoxCT editor Tom Carl if he’d run a time lapse on our Hartford Citycam. No problem. Here is the product of his efforts.

There are definite advantages to working at a TV station. For instance, this afternoon I asked our FoxCT editor Tom Carl if he’d run a time lapse video on our Hartford Citycam. No problem. Here is the product of his efforts.

We ran this on the FoxCT 4:00 PM news. Though there’s no excuse for you missing it, just in case here’s another chance.

Nice To Be Back In New Haven

I don’t have as much reason to be in New Haven on a regular basis anymore. I miss its vibe. I was reminded of that today.

I had lunch with a friend today in New Haven. His treat. We went to Mory’s. I’m not sure I can totally explain the place except without him and his membership I’m on the street.

It was nice to be back in New Haven! The differences between it and Hartford are immediately visible.

Hartford is full of tall buildings. New Haven much less so.

New Haven is full of interesting places to eat and shop. Hartford much less so.

Having Yale downtown adds foot traffic you don’t get when everyone comes to the city just to take an elevator to work!

Both cities have problems with crime, though I’ve never been nervous walking through either.

Each city has its strengths and weaknesses, but it’s interesting that two cities so close together in the same state are so different.

I don’t have as much reason to be in New Haven on a regular basis anymore. I miss its vibe. I was reminded of that today.

My Dinner Was Chosen On Facebook

Bob, a native of Middletown who I met in Philadelphia and now lives in South Florida was offering food advice in Hartford.

I was musing on Facebook about my dinner prospects tonight. With no company I’d whittled my choices to one: Subway. Then I heard from Bob Leonard on Facebook.

The Franklin Ave. Grinder Shop, which I’m sure is still there, is a must!

Never heard of it! I seemed to be alone. Everyone else has.

Franklin is around 10 minutes from the TV station in a neighborhood often considered iffy after dark. Directly behind the grinder shop are small frame tenements with clothes hanging on the line.

I walked inside and got in line. The man behind me wondered why I was in Hartford. Not everyone knows yet.

When I go to Subway I order a footlong. That wasn’t going to be the case here. A large grinder was nearly $20. I had a half.

A woman in line recommended a mixed Italian grinder which came with lettuce, tomato and peppers. Yum! The half was about all I could handle.

Every city has places like Franklin Giant Grinders. The secret is finding out they exist.

Blue Skies Above

I may be the weatherman, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get sick of the weather. May is usually my favorite month. Not May 2011!

A few minutes ago I walked through the newsroom, past the print people, into the lunchroom and out onto a small patio overlooking Hartford. It’s actually a designated smoking area, but I had it to myself. Overhead, blue!

Ohmygawd!!! Blue skies. I have been waiting for this forever… or so it seems.

I may be the weatherman, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get sick of the weather. May is usually my favorite month. Not May 2011!

OK — here’s my good news. This stuff is going to last. Sunny, warm days into the weekend!

I am beside myself with excitement.

Is There Food Here?

When I’ve asked my co-workers about the availability of diners they begin to weep softly and look down.

At first glance there’s less to eat in Hartford than there was in New Haven. Hopefully that improves at second glance though I’m not terribly hopeful. When I asked co-workers about the availability of diners they wept softly and looked down at their shoes.

Not that I don’t love you Subway, but I’ve already spent too much time at your nearby shop.

Tonight I went to the Wood-n-Tap on Sisson and picked up a salad. Pretty good. I mistakenly didn’t tell them to hold the bleu cheese. My error.

I found the last parking space nearby. Parking’s gonna be a problem. I’ve already been warned.

When you order out for dinner it’s easy to fall into bad habits. Delivered food is often what’s worst for you. There aren’t enough stairs in this place to work that off!

In The Swing At Work

I tried to prepare, but I didn’t want to be too prepared… too calculating. I didn’t want to be cute-by-design!
\

It’s a dark and damp night in Hartford. I am exhausted! It’s not because I worked so hard, but because the anxiety level was so high. Now I can relax a little. The next newscasts should be easier.

The 4:00 O’clock news is a blur. I tried to prepare, but I didn’t want to be too prepared… too calculating. I didn’t want to be cute-by-design!

I looked back at a piece of one aircheck and… it looked like me! Mission accomplished. My parents watched online. They said I looked good, but they’re my parents. Helaine, who can be depended on to tell me when I screw up seemed happy too.

Dan is preparing the maps for the 10:00 O’clock news now. I do plan on saying “Don’t go to sleep yet” at ten and eleven.

Tomorrow starts a more normal schedule with some science reporting at 4:00 and weather at 11:00 PM.

So far so good.

The Storm’s Over — The Numbers Are In

The dry air was the wild card. Radar showed moderate snow over all of Connecticut for hours-and-hours before anything hit the ground.

snow-shovel-on-the-steps.jpgThe snow has come and gone. There’s never a bullseye, but the forecast was reasonably close. If success is judged by number of complaints, or lack thereof, I’m doing fine. Here are the final DOT numbers. I have also added the Boston and New York NWS snow totals, which include Connecticut, for the Dec 20-21, 2009 storm at the end of this entry.

Not everyone was as lucky. A friend who forecasts in Springfield sent a text message saying he’d received nothing! “Bust of the decade,” he said. Ouch. Been there. I know exactly what he’s going through.

I was right about Southeastern Connecticut getting the most snow followed by the shoreline in general. The snow was fluffy and windblown as predicted. Accumulations were generally in line with my numbers. My call for the Northwest Hills and most of the area directly adjacent to the Massachusetts line was a few inches higher than the actual totals.

I wrote about this last night, but it bears repeating the most unusual and interesting part of this storm was the exceptionally dry air. During the summer we sometimes see 30 grams of water content per square meter. Last night it was around 1 gram per cubic meter!

The dry air was the wild card. Radar showed moderate snow over all of Connecticut for hours-and-hours before anything hit the ground. Once the atmospheric column over any location became saturated light snow turned to heavy snow. I’d never seen a situation quite like this before. It cut inches off all the accumulations.

It’s a shame this storm will impact Christmas shopping. Otherwise we’re lucky it came on a Saturday night when travel is usually light.

And now the dig out begins.

(NWS totals after the jump)

Continue reading “The Storm’s Over — The Numbers Are In”