FOX10 News

Isaac Afternoon Update

August 24th, 2012 at 4:11 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Uncategorized

As of 4pm, Tropical Storm Isaac is again slightly stronger with winds of 65mph. The storm is better organized, and the central pressure has dropped to 994 mb. Forward motion is now a more certain n’west at 16 mph. The forecast track is now a bit more to the east, but still includes all of our area. It is still expected to become a Category One hurricane in the Gulf next week.

Changes in the long range forecast track are expected. The poorly defined center of Isaac has repeatedly reformed to the south a few times, altering the storms actual position. The elongated system has also wobbled a good bit through the eastern Caribbean. Each wobble and change in position can make a big change in the predicted forecast track. The models shifted again today, this time more to the east. Expect more changes in the forecast. We will have a much clearer idea on the outcome of Isaac by Sunday.

The intensity forecast is also very tricky. This rather broad storm is not expected to rapidly intensify before reaching Cuba Saturday. It will spend a good bit of time over Cuba. The specific track across the mountains of s’east Cuba will have a big impact on the amount of weakening that will occur. The tallest peaks in the island nation are located in the Sierra Maestra and Sierra Cristal ranges, with some peaks above 6,000 ft. We do see a favorable environment for strengthening when Isaac eventually reaches the Florida straits and the Eastern Gulf. The interaction with the higher terrain could really disrupt the inner mechanics of the system , making reorganization over the Gulf more difficult.

Isaac Still at 40mph, Long Range Tracks Shifts West

August 23rd, 2012 at 4:20 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Tropical Storm Isaac continues to head west in the Caribbean Sea this evening. The system appears symmetrical on satellite imagery and is in a favorable environment for strengthening. Despite the low shear/warm water conditions surrounding Isaac, the system is still a minimal Tropical Storm. Only moderate strengthening is anticipated before the system reaches the higher terrain of Haiti Friday. The storm will also spend a good 24hours over the very land area of Cuba from midday Saturday to midday Sunday. If the system is able to survive all the land interaction, it would be in a more favorable environment for strengthening in the Eastern Gulf Monday and Tuesday of next week.

Forecast models onced placed the storm over south Florida by the weekend. The trough expected to help draw the system northward is weaker, and also a bit further west than expected. This has resulted in a significant change in the forecast track among the major computer models. The intensity forecast is very uncertain considering the amount of land interaction, and the current disorganized state of the tropical storm. One other potential issue with this system is that the steering currents get a lot lighter by mid week. It is possible Isaac could eventually stall somewhere in the gulf or the Deep South mid-week next week.

Busy week ahead…

August 17th, 2012 at 3:31 pm by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

Every week is a full one, but next week will overflow!

In addition to everything I do during a normal week, I’ll be back at Spring Hill College for another semester teaching one course in Multimedia Journalism.  My classroom is a hot-tech dream, complete with a touch-screen that controls the DVD, video projector and other electronics.  I’ve been returning to SHC, more or less every year since 1986.  Over the years, at least 13 former students have graduated and become co-workers at FOX 10!

No semester is ever the same as the last.  There is always something new to teach, whether it’s adjusting to the transition from tape to disk or watching local radio news slowly fade away while web news becomes more important.  As always, the bedrock is writing.

As always, I’m trying to become the first adjunct instructor to get tenure.  Then take a sabbatical :)

I’ll also be leading some in-house training here at FOX10 on writing for the web, which certainly isn’t like writing for print or even TV.

A busy week ahead…

Charles Gabriel Smith, Born 8-7-12

August 9th, 2012 at 4:12 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Here is the pic of my third child, a healthy baby boy. Charles Gabriel will get he nickname “Charlie” or “Gabe”. He joins his sister Emma Krouse and his brother Wes.

Matt’s Sunday Tropical Update

August 5th, 2012 at 3:17 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Disturbance Brings Rain

TS Florence

TS Ernesto Satellite

TS Ernesto Models

It’s still active in the tropics, but it’s highly unlikely we’ll get any action from the named systems… BUT an unnamed system tracking across Florida will be increasing our rain chances the next few days, so that’s where we’ll start with the tropical update….

Really just a trough of low pressure at this point, but it is carrying a lot of tropical moisture across the state. This moisture will be running into a front that will be working it’s way into the deep south on Monday. So, you take tropical moisture, you lift it with a front and you’re likely to get quite a few showers and storms. After just a few showers over the weekend, rain chances go up to 60% for Monday and Tuesday as we deal with that tropical moisture.

Still way out in the Atlantic, this storm continues to be poorly organized and struggling to survive. Dry air is wrapping into the system disrupting it’s circulation. This storm won’t effect us and it likley won’t effect anyone else ether as most of the models call for it dissipate in a few days.

The forecast for Ernesto has improved for our area. Ernesto has weakened because it simply won’t slow down. The storm is moving west at 23 mph which is hampering the circulation and creating it’s own wind shear. The forward movement is expected to slow down the next few days, but it’s unlikely the storm will become a hurricane as it will be too close to Central America to intensify. Since Ernesto is weak, it’s also less likely to be picked by a trough over the Gulf of Mexico and carried north. So the most likely scenario is that Ernesto will move over Belize and into Mexico and then dissipate. There is still time for that to change but the chances are low.

Numerous Tropical Systems To Track

August 4th, 2012 at 3:33 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Active Tropics!

Gulf Upper Low; Bahamas’ Disturbance

TS Florence

TS Ernesto

Ernesto Models

So much activity in the tropics! We have four areas were tracking, two of which are named systems at this point…

First let’s start in the Gulf. There is an Upper-Level Low spinning and creating a lot of rain and storminess off the Louisiana coast. Tropical systems don’t like upper-level lows because they create too much shear, but these systems can create a lot of rain when they have tropical moisture to deal with and that’s what this one will do just to the west of us.
In the Bahamas, is disturbance 91L. This is a weak, poorly organized system that is spreading rain into East Florida. Since this system is so disorganized the models can’t get a handle on what it’s going to do. Some take it north along Florida’s East Coast. Some carry it across Florida into the Northern Gulf. Whichever way it goes, this storm is unlikely to grow into anything significant, but could bring us more rain early next week if it tracks towards us.

Tropical Storm Florence developed quickly from a tropical wave off the African coast and is now moving due west in the far Atlantic. Further development will be slow due to dry air wrapping into the storm and strong wind shear in the upper levels. The forecast is for this storm to eventually make a move more to the northwest. It’s unlikely this one will make it into the Gulf, but folks on the East Coast will have to monitor it going into next weekend.

Tropical Storm Ernesto continues to look more ferocious than it is as it tracks through the Eastern Caribbean. Although shear is low and water temperatures are warm, dry air has been wrapping into this system limiting it’s strengthening. Because of this, the models have very little grip on the forecast strength of this storm and this is very important for where it will ultimately go. Check out the model tracks. They are pretty consistent on taking Ernesto to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico early Wednesday morning… It’s after that the uncertainty comes into play. Essentially, if Ernesto is weak it will likely strike the southern Yucatan and fizzle out, but if Ernesto grows into a hurricane it’s more likely the steering flow in the upper levels of the atmosphere will cause it to strike the northern Yucatan and then hold together into the southern Gulf where it could possibly threaten our area by late in the week. Regardless of what happens we have time here to watch, track, and possibly prepare for this system. Stay tuned and we will keep bringing you the latest information.

System is now T.S. Ernesto

August 2nd, 2012 at 4:47 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Tropical Depression Number Five was upgraded to Tropical Storm Ernesto this afternoon. A Hurricane Hunter Aircraft found evidence of winds at 50 mph sustained. Upper winds are only marginally conducive for strengthening over the next two days. Ernesto should continue on a westward course as it’s steered by the mid/upper ridge over the western Atlantic. Tropical Storm Ernesto could eventually become a hurricane by the weekend or early next week. The long range forecast has the system near the Yucatan by Thursday of next week.

T.D. Five Forms

August 1st, 2012 at 4:45 pm by under FOX10 News, FOX10 Stormtracker Weather

Tropical Depression #5 has formed 850 miles east of the Windward Islands. This system will head generally west-northwest over the next 3-5 days. An upper low to the north of the depression should limit strengthening this week. The system could get stronger over the weekend, depending on the upper level environment in the Caribbean. If it holds together, the system should be near Cuba or the Yucatan by the middle of next week.

Looks at London

July 15th, 2012 at 6:38 pm by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

If you’d like a look at London, here’s a street-level view captured a week ago:

And if you like air shows, here’s a look at some of the action from Farnborough on the first day of the trade show, which was not open to the public.  You’ll see lots of planes and a sea of suits.

3 in 1: Covering international news on a budget

July 13th, 2012 at 12:16 am by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

I traveled to London with a reporter, photographer, and an editor to cover the 2012 Farnborough International Air Show.

In other words, I went by myself.

My iPhone 4 and iPad 2 loaded with iMovie flew with me from Mobile, Alabama to London following the announcement that Airbus would build a $600 million dollar aircraft assembly plant in Mobile. Suddenly, the Air Show outside London had become a local story. Thanks to the extraordinary assistance of contacts within the business community, I was able to secure the invitations needed to attend receptions which gave me access to the most powerful figures in the aviation industry.

Not too many years ago, the equipment needed to produce TV stories was so large and so heavy, it would have taken at least two of us, as it did when I produced a documentary from Rome in 1988. At that time, getting video back to the U.S. would have involved either a satellite feed or a trip to the airport to ship tape back home. Either way, it would have been very expensive.

For this event, sending video back home involved dropping a file in Dropbox. Cost? Zero. Skype was also a possibility for live shots, but the video wasn’t close to broadcast quality.

I had ordered a small, flexible tripod designed for use with iPhones but it failed to arrive in time. That meant anything I shot was going to be handheld. Not the best choice, but the only option.

To supplement the video, and provide visuals where iPhone video was impractical, I brought along my 8 megapixel still camera with a 10x optical lens. It gave me a chance to zoom into subjects which my fixed focal length iPhone couldn’t see. Thanks to iMovie and its “Ken Burns effect”, I was able to add the slightest bit of movement to still images, to fill in the gaps where I had good copy but poor or non-existent video.

For recording natural sound, the iPhone was fine. Recording interviews required me to get as close as I could to my subject to make sure he or she could be heard. It wasn’t always easy to deal with wind and traffic, but the results were usable. Because of the proximity to my subjects and the need to make sure they were in frame, it was hard to avoid the “deer in the headlights” look, but I gave it my best shot.

My hotel room was my audio booth, and the internal microphone on the iPad worked well. Editing with iMovie was easy and as with most Apple products, intuitive. Once the story was saved at the highest resolution possible and sent to Dropbox, it was available halfway around the world instantly. Can’t beat the speed or the price.

If I only had longer arms, I could have framed my stand ups a little better.  I blame my photographer for that.