Monthly Archives: February 2013

PSU Harlem Shake

Today, at around the same time our class starts, the Harlem Shake should be hitting the Penn State campus on a large scale.  Today a large group of people will be meeting on the Old Main lawn to create the first Penn State Harlem Shake to occur with a large group.  What’s unique about the whole Harlem Shake phenomenon, is the fact that the original video in which the song debut, was uploaded to youtube over a year ago.  So why is it just the Harlem Shake just taking off now? This seems to happen all of the time, someone will upload a video, and for a year or so, it will sit there and barley get any view.  The video doesn’t go viral until someone spreads it, and thanks to social media this happens very quickly.

Here is a link to the original song.

And here is the video that made the song go viral.

Freezing Rain

Since today we have the possibility of experiencing some freezing rain later this evening and into the overnight hours, I felt that today would be a good day to cover how freezing rain occurs and what conditions are necessary in order to get freezing rain.

In the case of freezing rain, its all about the temperature at ground level and above the ground level.  There must be a specific pattern of temps above ground level in order to get freezing rain. If not, you’ll receive just snow or just rain.  The diagram below shows the temperature in relation to the height above the ground. Temperature is on the x axis, and height on the y axis. skewtkunv.16535image from NOAA

In the above image, it shows the temperatures here in State College this morning.  The black line represents the 0* C line and the red line is the actual temp.  In this case all of the red line is to the left of the 0 C line, so in this case we would get just snow.

skewt.30089image from NOAA

If we look farther to the west however in Dubois PA, we see something different.  If you follow the red line down, just above the ground, it crosses the 0 C line, then back to its left. This means, as a snow flake falls from the upper atmosphere just above the ground it melts, but at the ground surface it freezes again, so hence the term freezing rain.

Unions in America Montage

So this semester I’m taking a gen ed in art,  in this case it’s communications 150 which is the art of cinema.  Honestly the class is fairly interesting, however it’s not the movies we have watch or the techniques we have learned about in the making of the a movie, but the professor himself.  My professor is a very opinionated individual, and at the end of class every thursday, he shows us what he call his parting thought.  His parting thoughts are generally in the for of a montage of video clips from the movie we watched that week and current issues we are facing in our country.

This week we had watch a movie dealing with mob controlled unions.  His parting thought talked about how Americans today have no collective bargaining rights, and that what held people together in the work place, unions, are being destroyed by the republicans, who are portraying unions as evil.  My mom being a school teacher, I am fairly familiar with how unions work, and I would have to agree with my professor that unions are an important part of a developed countries work force.  Without a union workers would have almost no say in their safety, or other aspects of their employment. There would also be no force to fight back when issues are occurring.  I feel unions serve an important role, and they should be preserved.

This Week in Weather History

The week of February 10th through the 15th is a fairly important part of weather history,  during this week back in 1983 there was a major blizzard that hit Washington DC, and south central Pennsylvania. In 2007 there was also a major blizzard that brought more than twenty inches of snow to some areas in New England, but also caused a tornado outbreak in southern United States.

The 1983 storm occurred between the dates of February 10th through the 12th and brought snow fall amounts of nearly three feet in some places to the south of Pennsylvania including Washington DC.  On the night of the 10th of February, there was a strong area of low pressure of the Georgian coast.  As I said in an earlier blog, air around the low circulates counterclockwise, which brought moist air of the cold ground in the DC area which was the primary cause of the snow.

1983_surface_stdimage from NOAA

Back in 2007 however, the blizzard know as the Valentines day blizzard, formed much differently due to the fact that it was a low pressure system that moved in from the western coast.  This in turn caused the snow to be centered around the New England region.  Coming from the west also caused this system to produce tornado storms in the south, due to the cold dry air meeting warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.

Feb242007_blizzardimage from NOAA

So from a blizzard in 1983, a blizzard and severe weather in 2007, to the surprise snow storm on  Wednesday, with the best packing snow ever, this week in February in truly unique.





Super Bowl

Of all of the Super Bowl commercials that aired this year, the one which I felt was the best out of all of them, was the Volkswagen commercial.  Overall the commercial was very believable and it was easy for those who watched it to relate it to their actually life.  Which is something you can’t say for some of the other commercials, such as the Axe Astronaut, or the Wheat Thins commercial with the yeti.

From the very start of the commercial where the office employees state “I hate Mondays”, to the food stuck in the vending machine, I’m sure at some point in time each of these scenes has happened to someone somewhere.  I really enjoy any commercial that is relatable to the aspects of my life.


So if you have watch the Weather Channel at all lately, you’ll see the almost 24 hour coverage of what the Weather Channel is calling Winter Storm Nemo.  This storm is of a Noreaster type, which means it is traveling up the Eastern seaboard and heading directly for the New England states.  What, makes this storm different however?

In this case, there was a low pressure system moving across the country from the west which is merging with the Noreaster.  The combination of the two will bring heavy snow fall to places like Boston and New York City. The storm has the possibility of setting some record snowfall in some locations.

snowimage from meteorology department of Penn State

The low to the left is the system that came from the west and the one on the right is the Noreaster.

Three years ago on this same weekend the US was affected by another Noreaster, the North American Blizzard of 2010. The current storm is following the same approximate path as the blizzard in 2010.  The main difference between the two is the fact that the current storm contains the extra low pressure system.

snow 2010image NOAA GOES Satellite

Image of the North American Blizzard of 2010

In weather around the world, on Monday February 4th, an 8.0 earthquake struck off the coast of the Solomon Islands, causing a medium sized tsunami

What a Week

So this week was one of the most unique weeks yet in my time here at Penn State so far.  Starting the week with freezing rain on Monday, followed by a nice sneak peek of spring on Wednesday, and finally lake effect snow with arctic temperatures to close the week.  So here is a description of what caused us to have such a weird weather week.

In figure one you can see there is a center of low pressure in Canada, which is the sole reason behind the weather this week.  As you can see the is a warm front (red line) to our east and a cold front (blue line) to our west.  Being in between both of these caused us to lie in what is known a warm sector, which had temps in the 60’s

warm frontfigure one

A warm sector is caused by the rotation of air around the center of low pressure.  As the air rotates counter clockwise around the low, it draws warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico which gave us temperature in the upper 50’s.

warm circulfigure two

Just past 9pm on Wednesday, the cold front past through Pennsylvania, and are temperatures began to drop steadily, and they are still dropping. By 8am Thursday  morning we were at 30 degrees.

cold frontfigure three

So what caused the snow on Thursday?  Remember that the air around the centre of low pressure rotates counter clockwise, so after the low moved to our east, this brought cold air from the north.  This cold air moved across the warmer moist air above the great lakes, which caused us to get the lake effect snow we saw on Thursday.

jet streamfigure four

In the map image above, you can see that the jet stream curves down from the north and travels through our area.  This is going to bring the return of cold temperatures for next week, so bundle up.

Blank US map by Northern Arizona University, Department of Geography.