It's not often entertainment on board a cruise ship can be upstaged but on this particular night, Mother Nature gave it a shot.
Make that, several shots...
I took this video as the Disney Fantasy sailed into the Gulf of Mexico on May 1 just hours after it left a very hot and muggy Cozumel, Mexico.
(How hot? I went back and checked when I got home and it was 86 degrees with a 73 degree dew point that evening. Or as this Seattleite said: About 3 degrees cooler than molten lava. Though I'm sure many of the Florida residents on the ship probably thought it was a bit chilly.)
Does it feel a bit like January out there today? Your skin does not deceive you.
A cold system from the Gulf of Alaska has settled into the Pacific Northwest, bringing not only a steady winter-like rain but has kept temperatures stuck in the 40s(!) through the late morning.
In fact, at 11 a.m., Seattle was stuck at 46 degrees -- about the average high for mid January. It's so cold in the Northwest that Seattle and Portland were tied as the coldest major cities in the lower 48 states -- and it wasn't even close! (Boise was at 50. Anchorage was also at 46. If we do lower our population threshold for "major city", Spokane checks in at 41.)
Portland would gradually take the trophy by itself as Seattle later warmed into the low 50s as Portland remained stuck in the mid 40s.
That might not seem very long -- roughly about the time it takes to wade through your hourly drama if you blaze through commercials. But compared to a few decades ago, 36 minutes of time might have saved countless lives during the devastating tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma on Monday.
Years ago, the residents of Moore would have likely had no idea the tornado was coming until the twister was sighted, giving people barely a few minutes' notice. But thanks to advancements in technology, tornadoes rarely sneak up on anyone anymore.
In fact, forecasters as early as Wednesday began sounding the alarm for a potential severe weather breakout on Sunday and Monday. And, on Friday, the forecasts became more specific. On Monday, a Tornado Watch, which indicates conditions are right for tornadic development, was issued at 1:10 p.m. for much of Oklahoma, including the greater Oklahoma City area.
With tornadoes in the news lately I figured it'd be a good time to post answers to some frequently asked questions about the powerful storms:
What does "EF-4" mean?
WIth the devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, you'll be hearing a lot of about "EF" ratings -- that's from the Enhanced Fujita Scale that rates tornadoes on a scale of 0 to 5, 5 being the strongest.
The Moore tornado was given a preliminary rating of EF-4 ("Devastating") with estimated tornadic wind speeds of up to 200 mph, although many are thinking that rating could be increased to an EF-5 ("Incredible") once more damage assessment is done.
Sadly, it's not the first time Moore has had to deal with such a catastrophic storm. On May 3, 1999, Moore was struck by an EF-5 tornado which recorded the strongest wind speed ever registered near Earth's surface. this map provided by the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma shows just how close the two tracks were.
As we mentioned in the blog Thursday, there's a particularly active sunspot on the sun right now.
It had, as its opening salvo while starting to face the Earth, unleashed a moderately strong solar flare that reached us late Friday, triggering a display of the Northern Lights that reached as far south as Colorado.