highlights -- travel weather
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[April 19, 2007]
HOPEWELL JUNCTION, N.Y. --
The start of the week was a traveler's nightmare, thanks to a
powerful nor'easter type storm causing havoc with flight schedules
nationwide. Hundreds of flights were expected to be canceled or
delayed as the storm pounded the Northeast with high winds, flooding
rains and heavy snow. The worst of the weather was in the Northeast;
however, the ripple effect was felt nationwide. The weather quieted
down by midweek, but added weather problems could occur at a number
of airports. By Thursday, rain will be slowing things down from San
Francisco northward into Portland and Seattle. A few midweek
thunderstorms will cause delays in Dallas and Denver. Chicago and
Atlanta are both looking pretty good this week, with only minor
Powerful nor'easter strikes: A storm that many are calling
the worst to hit the East Coast since December of 1992 is being
blamed for at least three deaths, along with widespread flooding and
near record amounts of rainfall. From West Virginia to Connecticut,
residents were urged to stay home from work and school on Monday as
the storm intensified off Long Island. More than 8 inches of rain
had fallen in New York City as of Monday morning, 7.52 inches of
that coming on Sunday. Extreme coastal flooding was forecast from
New Jersey to New England as winds of tropical storm force were
expected to push tides a few to several feet above normal. More than
600 flights were canceled on Sunday as torrential rain battered
coastal areas and heavy, wet snow piled up further inland. Eighteen
inches of snow was expected for parts of upstate New York and
northern New England. The storm was also responsible for deadly
tornadoes that struck from the Carolinas to Florida on Sunday.
Freak wave hits Acapulco
A rogue wave slammed ashore in Acapulco, Mexico, last week,
dragging six people walking along the beach into the ocean. The wave
struck on a sunny, hot day with little wind and little other wave
action occurring at the time. The wave pushed seawater hundreds of
feet inland, rising to the bumpers of cars in the parking lots of
the hotel-lined boulevard. Unusually high waves such as this one can
strike in otherwise good weather due to meteorological phenomena
occurring hundreds or even thousands of miles offshore.
Gray to Gore: "Hogwash"
One of the nation's most well-known hurricane prognosticators
is calling Al Gore "a gross alarmist" for making a documentary on
global warming. Speaking at the National Hurricane Conference in New
Orleans last week, William Gray was quoted as saying that Gore is
"one of those guys that preaches the end-of-the-world type of
things. I think he's doing a great disservice, and he doesn't know
what he's talking about." And, speaking of not knowing what he's
talking about, Gore's camp exercised extreme politeness in not
pointing out that Gray's forecasts over the past two hurricane
seasons have been waaaaaaaaaaaaay off the mark.
CompuWeather case of the week -- "Lasso that shopping cart!"
We've all seen it happen at least once. A grocery store parking
lot on a windy day. Empty shopping carts that seem to have a mind of
their own. BAM! Dented car door. It happens often, despite the best
efforts of store management to dispatch employees outside to corral
the wayward carts in a timely fashion.
Shopping carts are one thing, but when a full-sized metal
dumpster is the rolling culprit, the damage inflicted can be more
substantial. And that's exactly what happened to the owner of a BMW
in the parking lot of a Kash-n-Karry in Florida. She came out of the
store to find the dumpster up against the side of her car, along
with damage to the passenger-side door, the side panel and window.
Even the frame of the vehicle was bent slightly from the force of
the 450-pound dumpster hitting it.
[to top of second column]
The owner of the car filed a damage report with the store, and the
report was subsequently sent along to their insurance carrier, which
made payment on the claim.
The insurance company's subrogation
unit began an investigation that included a call to CompuWeather. An
analysis of the wind indicated that it was strong that day, with
gusts going as high as 30 mph when the incident took place. But was
that enough wind to cause a heavy dumpster to roll on its own?
Further investigation was warranted.
Over the course of the previous several years, the insurance
company had processed a number of damage claims stemming from
wind-driven shopping carts. Those dates were provided to
CompuWeather, and the meteorologist analyzed the wind and weather on
those days as well. The report showed that on all of the previous
days when cart damage occurred, the wind speed was at least 27 mph.
And on a few of the days, winds exceeded 40 miles per hour.
So it was deduced that a wind of at least 25-30 mph was required
to cause the much-lighter-weight shopping carts to careen out of
control. It didn't seem likely that a heavy dumpster could be moved
by winds of similar speeds.
With weather now ruled out as a possibility, the investigator began
looking elsewhere. It was eventually determined that the dumpster
had a faulty braking device on its wheels, and that the refuse
company had made a pickup during the time that the BMW owner was
parked in the lot. When the dumpster was emptied and placed back on
the ground, it started rolling because of the faulty brake and ended
up colliding with the car. The insurance company recovered what it
had paid out from the refuse company.
CompuWeather's quick way to document a case
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