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Davis Weather E-news
March 2015
In This Issue:

Vantage Pro2 to Help Supersonic Car Set Land Speed Record

The British-built Bloodhound Supersonic Car is out to set a new Outright World Land Speed Record. The current FIA World Land Speed record and the first supersonic record is 763.035 mph (1227.985 kmh), set in 1997 by ThrustSSC. The futuristic Bloodhound intends to blow that record out of the books with its capability of reaching 1000 mph (1,600 km/hr.). That's ONE THOUSAND miles per hour!!

The vehicle is supersonic because it is designed to go faster than the speed of sound. It's a car because it has four wheels and is under the complete control of the driver. It's super cool, because, look at it! and because it's a jet- and rocket-powered mix of fighter jet and race car. BloodhoundSSC has more that six times the power of all the Formula One cars on a starting grid put together.

The Bloodhound Project team has selected the smooth, flat surface of a dry lakebed called Hakskeen Pan in Northern Cape Province, South Africa, to set this record, and has been working for three years to prepare the track for testing the car in 2015 and 2016.

The project's communications sponsor, MTN Communications, sent us these photos of a very important part of the high tech team: a Vantage Pro2 Plus weather station!

A high tech weather station for a very high tech vehicle!

The Vantage Pro2 is installed on the fence at this MTN Communications Green Technology BTS site.

One more shot of the Vantage Pro2 console.

Michiel De Kock, Manager of of MTN Support Systems, tells us the station was installed on one of MTN’s Green Technology BTS Sites in preparation for the event.

He wrote, "We love your product! It’s easy to install, accurate and it’s in a league of its own. We are planning to install two more units for the event."

We are beyond thrilled to be part of this record-setting effort.

To get you in the mood, here's a fun little video of the Bloodhound taking on a Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighter.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 1:

This part of the Kalahari was selected for its flat, dry desert surface. So why was the Bloodhound Project team thrilled when the track flooded in April of last year?

Extra Credit: Hakskeen Pan or Hakskeenpan?

(Click here for answers.)

Braving the Beautiful Cold in Portugal

Mike Sousa, director of GreenMill Smart Solutions and our Portuguese distributor, flew home from a visit to the sunny Bay Area to slightly cooler temps. He sent us this photo of a Vantage Vue on a 2000-meter-high (6,500 feet) mountain top in Serra da Estrela, the highest point in Portugal.

"This picture was not taken in the North Pole," Mike wrote. "The minimum temperature at this location today was about -8.8° C (16.16°F)."

The Serra da Estrela mountain range is about 351 kilometers (218 miles) from Mike's office in Alges, where, we hope, it's a little less niveous.

Disappointed that it wasn't the North Pole? Well, here is a photo of Vantage Pro2 in Antarctica in February, 2006 on the Peter I 3YOX DXpedition.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 2:

Would you describe that penguin as "niveous?"

(Click here for answers.)

Swiss Snowcaps and Blue Skies

This gorgeous shot was sent to us by Daniel Masotti, a certified meteorologist at the Université de Lyon, France. His system has a probe to measure snow height or water level and is installed in Evolene, Switzerland (possibly the most beautiful place on earth) at 2,340 meters (7,677 feet).

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 3:


Which of these are good ways to protect yourself and your home from extreme weather and hurricane damage?

A. Plant mangrove trees
B. Create oyster reefs
C. Reinforce garage doors
D. During a tornado, open the front and back doors
E. Get a NOAA weather radio

(Click here for answers.)


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AnemometerWEATHER 101

Mother Was Right: Cold Can Make You Sick

In a stunning vindication of mothers and grandmothers everywhere, science has proven that, yes, you will catch your death if you don't wear a hat outside in the wintertime!

Our great-grandmothers may have formed the opinion that cold CAUSED colds and flu, which is of course not true (viruses cause colds and flu; no virus, no illness no matter how cold you are). However, they were not wrong in their opinion that people are much more likely to get sick in the wintertime.

Even scientists had to admit that cold weather and colds and flu were correlated: up to 20% of us will come down with a cold or flu every winter.

But the question is, why?

Was it all on the human side of the equation? Does cold provide more opportunity for transmission?

Or was it on the side of the wee germs? Does cold somehow make viruses better able to infect us?

For a very long time, the thinking has been mostly toward the former. Cold makes us more likely to encounter germs. In cold weather, people tend to stay crowded indoors around the fireplace, sneezing on each other. In other words, if people holed up all summer long in a nice warm room with the windows closed, there'd be just as many colds and flu in the summer. (Granny would have said, "Pshaw. It's the cold itself! Put on your mittens!")

A couple of years ago, researchers came up with a test to see whether or not just the fact that someone experienced cold made them more likely to get sick, and guess what? They were! Scientists put people's feet in in ice water and compared their rate of illness in the following weeks to people who said, "heck no" to the offer of a free footie ice bath. The popsicle-footed did get sick more often! (Chalk up one point for mothers everywhere!)

Researchers came up with lots of reasons why being cold might increase our susceptibility to colds and flu. They posited and proved that being cold increases cortisol levels, which would decrease immunity. They know that being cold causes our blood vessels to constrict, which would make it harder for the body to get white blood cells to the infection scene quickly. They know that dry, heated, indoor air causes dried out, mucous-less nasal passageways, which would lead to more viruses getting past the nose into the lungs. It was suggested that with less time out in the sunshine, our levels of immune-boosting vitamin D drops. (Chalk up a few more points for our very smart moms!)

Researchers had already demonstrated that warm cells are better at performing the "self-destruct" function when they are infected. But a new study out of Yale may be offering the definitive answer. It has shown that lower temperatures weaken the nose's fist line of immune defense. They used a modified rhinovirus on mice and tested the ability of the cells in the mouse airways to fight the virus. They saw a marked changed in the immune response when the temperature got to 91.4°F/33°C. Even a nice wet, mucousy nose, if it is cold, loses its ability to fend off a rhinovirus as the temperature drops.

Where the cold makes us more susceptible, it seems to give viruses a boost. The coat on flu and cold viruses gets stronger the colder it is. This allows them to survive longer while burrowing deep and cozy into your cold, dry nose and be better able to fend off your cold-impaired immune response.

It sounds to us like the key is not so much avoiding being in cold air, but in avoiding breathing cold air. We suggest that researchers take a group of volunteers and outfit them with respirators that warm the air and keep nasal passageways at 98.6°F/37°C, then drop them off in their swim suits on a snowy winter mountaintop. Come back in a few months and see who has the flu. Any volunteers?

No takers? Even for science? Well, at the very least, go call your mother and apologize, right this minute. Tell her you will are wearing the scarf she knitted for you and that you won't take it off until your Vantage Vue reports some bathing suit weather.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 4:


We weather buffs love our archived weather data! Which one of these stories of how past weather data was used by health researchers is true?

A. 25 years of wind direction data used to connect unusual wind patterns to an increase in malarial infections

B. 31 years of absolute humidity data used to indict dry air as a contributor to flu outbreaks

C. 84 years of temperature data used to connect higher rates of boys born nine months after record high heat and higher rates of girls after low temperature record.

D. 150 years of rain data used to connect drought to increased incidence of kidney stones

E. 1 year of local high temperature correlated to six cases of food poisoning from Aunt Tillie's potato salad at the Anderson family reunion.

(Click here for answers.)

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AnemometerTECH TIPS

New Tech Tip Videos

There's a new WeatherLinkIP firmware update! The update is free on our web site, but for those of you who need a little more "hand-holding" for how to get the update from our web site to your data logger, we've just made you life easier! We got a new Tech Tip Video on YouTube that walks you through every step.

(Does a "firmware update" still just sound too techy for you?" Well, check out the video. Our Tech Support Guru, Brett, is a master teacher and he has the kind of voice that makes you just go calm and peaceful. We think he should do a guided mediation tape next.)

Scary Bird "Dropping"

We often tell you to climb up there and clean out your rain collector, because bird droppings can clog the funnel and leave you with inaccurate rain data. But when we say droppings, we mean, like, you know, the euphemistic kind of droppings. Not the kind Paul Hepner found when climbed up to do his routine maintenance on his Vantage Pro2 mounted on his chimney 25 feet in the air. He was rewarded with a small, dead snake in the rain collector. A gift from a passing bird, he thinks, which didn't help his rain readings.

Or his anxiety levels.

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Anemometerdavis in the news

Ed Mansouri Takes STEM to his Alma Mater

Ed Mansouri, the amazing founder of WeatherSTEM, was featured in an article in the Penn State News. He brought his WeatherSTEM program and two Vantage Pro2s to the Penn State Arboretum rooftop and garden. Mansouri graduated from Penn State's meteorology program in 1995, so he must be thrilled to be back on campus for such a far-reaching and important reason!

The rooftop system also has a sky-facing camera that snaps a photo every minute. The photos are loaded into a "movie" of the skies over Penn State. See all the data here; click "Sky Video to see the sky movie which plays along with a concurrent, scrolling graph of selectable weather parameters. Very cool!!.

AnemometerWeather Check Quiz Question 5:


Personality Test: In one of the most difficult periods in Penn State's history, one part of the university is doing great. The Berkey Creamery, Penn's own creamery that produces ice cream and sherbets, about half of which are made with milk from the University's own cows.

It's a little known fact that your choice of ice cream flavor is 100% accurate in indicating your personality. Choose your flavor, then check the answer page to see exactly what kind of Weather Weenie (that's what the Penn State article calls us!) you are.

If you were to visit the Berkey Creamer today, which flavor would you choose?

Black Cow: Vanilla ice cream with root beer sherbet swirl

Death by Chocolate: Chocolate ice cream with chocolate flakes, fudge pieces and chocolate swirl

Keeney Beany Chocolate: Chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips and vanilla bean

Scholar's Chip: Vanilla ice cream with vanilla bean and chocolate chips

Russ "Digs" Roseberry: Strawberry ice cream with black raspberry sauce and dark chocolate

Coconut Chip: Coconut ice cream with chocolate chips

(Click here for answers.)

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AnemometerMail Bag

One River Too Many

Jackie Erickson likes our newsletter! She's been a weather-watcher and a Davis weather station owner since the dark ages when our stations were called Digitar. Now on her second Vantage Pro2, she likes things to be accurate -- and this applies to grammar as well as weather data!

She pointed out that in her southwestern part of the world, nobody would say the "Rio Grande river" as we did in our last issue.

"Since the name means 'Big River,' why say 'Big River river'?" she asked.

Oops oops.

This is Lakeside Living

Bob Carter sent us this shivery photo of his Vantage Pro2 on cold Lake Michigan. Looking at those white-capped waves, we know it is working hard while those lazy kayaks lay around and dream of summer.

Dan Has a Pot of Gold on His Property

Dan Hope, being a Californian and a Vantage Pro2 owner, enjoyed the few recent storms we've had. This one left the Vantage Pro2 with a photo-op rainbow backdrop.

"My Pro2 is mounted at the top on the hill on my property that I call Windmill Ranch in Oak View, California. She helps me protect my avocado trees," Dan wrote.

After telling us how he has lost young trees to frost, he added, "A farmer once told me that most people do not realize that Mother Nature is the grower's worst enemy." 

(And maybe a Vantage Pro2 can be his best friend!)

Russ's Anemometer is Ice Cold

Russ Charter, of Sneeds Ferry, North Carolina, thought we'd like to see this photo of his "anemometer toughing it out after a recent ice storm.  As soon as it warmed up and the ice melted, it started reporting the wind data again."

Ice, ice, baby anemometer!

 What do you think of the E-Newsletter? How can we improve? How do you use your Davis weather products? E-mail us at news@davisnet.com.


Question 1: So why was the Bloodhound Project team thrilled when the track flooded in April of last year?

Standing water will repair damage to the desert that may have been caused during the Bloodhound Project preparation process. Many rivers flow in the Pan in the rainy season, but the 2012-13 summer was dry, with almost no rain from November to March.

Extra Credit: Hakskeen Pan or Hakskeenpan?

Your choice! As explained on the BloodhoundSSC web site, "Hakskeen" is 'heel' in Afrikaans, the language used in South Africa, and a 'pan' in this sense is a natural depression in the ground. Hakskeenpan is probably named due to its shape on a map. In Afrikaans, you would say Hakskeenpan, but in English this becomes Hakskeen Pan."

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Question 2: Would you describe that penguin as "niveous?"

Not if you want a job in the hard-hitting world of weather journalism! You might call him an Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri), the tallest penguin (up to 48 inches/122 cm), an excellent diver (1,755 feet/535 meters), a devoted father (balancing his egg on his feet for 64 continuous days), a long-lived dude (as old as 50 years), and you might even call him inflatable, but not niveous. It means, "resembling snow, especially in whiteness."

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Question 3: Which of these are good ways to protect yourself and your home from extreme weather and hurricane damage.

Well we hope you didn't say D. All the others are good advice! Mangrove trees planted near your home can take the brunt of a high wind. They tend to stay rooted. Man made oyster reefs can reduce wave impact during storms, and prevent beach erosion. Make sure your garage door is strong enough to withstand high winds.They are often overlooked in hurricane preparation, but if wind enters the garage it can cause extreme damage. (Source: Care2.com). If you live where any kind of extreme weather occurs, but especially if your home is a favorite spot for tornadoes or hurricanes, you gotta have a NOAA weather radio!!

But, if a tornado is threatened, open the front and back doors only if need to go through them to get to your storm cellar. Otherwise, close windows and doors and get to your safe room - basement, storm cellar, or the center of a small interior room on the lowest level.

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Question 4: Which one of these stories of how past weather data was used by health researchers is true?

B. Dr. Jeffrey Shaman of Oregon State University compared absolute humidity and flu outbreaks by looking at flu deaths and weather data over 31 years. He concluded that in 55 to 60% of the flu outbreaks, there was a recorded drop in absolute humidity a few weeks before an outbreak. Read all about it here.

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Question 5: Personality Test: If you were to visit the Berkey Creamer today, which flavor would you choose?

Black Cow: You are a Whirlwind Weather Weenie. You embrace the twists in life, whether it's a tornado or a root beer sherbet swirl. What you love about the weather is the way it changes and surprises.

Death by Chocolate: You are a Wingin' It Weather Weenie: You live in the moment, knowing life is good right now, right here, so why think about tomorrow? While you love to sit back and look at your weather data streaming in, you are not crazy about the whole preparedness thing.

Keeney Beany Chocolate: You are a Wary Weather Weenie: "Safe and cute," that's your motto. You love a mild rainy day when you can pull out on your yellow Wellies, grab your duckie umbrella and go puddle-splashing. But you always know when a big storm is brewing, and will always be hunkered down, storm shutters on, well in advance.

Scholar's Chip: You are a Well-Informed Weather Weenie. You maintain an archive of weather data and study every surface pressure chart, forecast map and satellite photo you can get your hands on. You write term papers on weather events even though you finished school years ago, just for the fun of it.

Russ "Digs" Roseberry: You are a Warrior Weather Weenie. Never one to stay indoors in the face of a little weather, you are always out there, rain or snow, playing hard. Whether it's running, golfing or football tossing, you check your weather station, dress for whatever's coming and head out into it.

Coconut Chip: You are a Warmth-Wanting Weather Weenie. You live where snow shoveling is your primary winter form of exercise and where you don't get haircuts for months because it would require removing your wooly hat. Your weather station is the source of much bragging rights on the "extreme low temps" threads of weather chat boards. But when summer rolls around and the Vantage Vue thaws out and starts reporting warm days, you become a WILD Weather Weenie!

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Each month after the E-News goes out, we receive messages back. Sometimes the messages are in response to a story we shared; other times they are a request for help of some kind. We read all the emails, answer those we can, and pass the rest on to the appropriate departments. If you're interested in the fastest possible reply, news@davisnet.com may not be the best place to send your message. Questions about how things work should be addressed to tech support directly at support@davisnet.com. For general information about the products, contact sales@davisnet.com. To request a catalog, see the links for catalog requests on our web site at www.davisnet.com/contact/catalog.asp.

What do you think of our E-news? Please continue to send your comments, weather URLs, and story suggestions to news@davisnet.com. We look forward to getting your comments and any responses you have to the Davis E-News. Member participation is what keeps the Davis E-News alive and kicking.

Well, that's it for this edition. You'll be hearing from us again next month!
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