Solar engineer shines light on climate change solutions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Growing up as a Boy Scout, Bob Clark-Phelps believed in the camping mantra, “Leave no trace.” As an engineer with First Solar, Clark-Phelps knows it is no longer possible for humans to leave the earth unscarred for future generations. But he’s not yet given up on leaving behind the best planet possible. Clark-Phelps, who had been with First Solar for six years, spoke about climate change on Thursday to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. A large majority of Americans believe that climate change is occurring and should be met with policies, he said. However, the people able to make those policies don’t seem to have the stomach to do so. And debates on the topic are increasingly polarized. “All we’re missing is the political will to get it done,” he said. “It’s not going to go away on its own.” Clark-Phelps referred to a Yale Climate Study, which gauged the public’s views on global warming. More than two-thirds of those studied said climate change is happening, with 54 percent saying it is caused by humans. Meanwhile, 97 percent of publishing climate scientists agree that global warming is occurring. “There’s almost unanimity,” he said. But less than half of the people surveyed know that the vast majority of scientists back the climate change theory. That may be because journalists are trained to present all sides of controversial issues. So in an attempt to present balanced reporting, it may appear that both sides of the climate change issue are well supported by scientists. But that simply isn’t true, Clark-Phelps said. Even with climate deniers getting news time, nearly three-quarters of Americans studied agreed that the U.S. should regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. “Why is there continuing division and policy paralysis,” Clark-Phelps asked. The evidence can be seen and felt all around the world, he said. The increasing number of forest fires out west are worsened by higher temperatures, less snow, drought conditions – all of which lengthen the fire season. “Climate change is a massive risk multiplier,” Clark-Phelps said. Some researchers predict forest fires in the western U.S. will increase by six times by the year 2050. In Florida, pumping water back into the ocean is becoming commonplace as the state loses its coastline. “Florida is a place where it floods on sunny days now,” he said. In Alaska, the glaciers are disappearing…

Isolated severe thunderstorms possible Wednesday & Thursday

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: A storm system will move into NW Ohio Wednesday afternoon and evening and then continuing into Thursday (8/15 & 16).  Although widespread severe weather is not expected, some isolated thunderstorms could become strong or even severe at times. The primary threat from this storm system will be an abundance of tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico that will be available to the storm system.  Scattered showers and thunderstorms will be possible Wednesday afternoon with a better chance of persistent rain/storms likely by evening into the overnight hours and a good portion of Thursday.  It will be possible for thunderstorms to start “training” (one right after the other) over the area which could lead to flooding issues in some areas where these training storms may set up. Please exercise extra caution if you have to travel Wednesday night and into Thursday as roadways may have ponding of water or may even have deeper flooding water at times especially in areas of training thunderstorms.

Rain on its way for weekend

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: An unusual slow moving storm system will move into the lower Great Lakes area on Friday and linger around for most of the weekend.  Widespread severe weather is not expected; however, the Storm Prediction Center has placed NW Ohio in the “Marginal” (lowest) risk category for severe weather on Friday.  This means that isolated thunderstorms may become strong to even severe on Friday especially Friday evening.  The remainder of the weekend showers and thunderstorms will be likely with potentially heavy rain at times.  Although ground conditions are very dry, there is a small risk of flooding issues should conditions produce excessive rainfall in isolated areas.  In general, 1” to 2” of rain can be expected from Friday through Sunday.  Some areas west of Wood County may see more rainfall.

Going to be a scorcher

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director, has issued the following advisory: Information just in from the National Weather Service shows a heat advisory will be in place for Wood County from noon until 10 p.m. on Saturday.  The heat index (air temperature + humidity) will be 100-104 degrees on Saturday.  Portions of Northwest Ohio, including Wood County, could have heat index values higher than 105 degrees which would trigger an Excessive Heat Warning on Saturday.  People should limit outside activities or at least be very cautious with extra breaks and plenty of water.  People are asked to check on family, friends and neighbors who may be vulnerable to these excessive heat conditions.  Intense heat and humidity will continue on Sunday; however, the core of the most intense heat will shift toward Northeast Ohio on Sunday.  Thunderstorms are possible late Sunday and into Monday as a very weak cold front passes.  Widespread severe weather is not expected at this time, but the chance of an isolated stronger storm with this heat cannot be ruled out. The Wood County Senior Center on Main Street in Bowling Green will have extended hours today and on Saturday for a cooling center if needed.

As remnants of Alberto move in keep an eye on weather

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: The remnants of sub-tropical storm Alberto will move into Indiana today and impact Ohio.  Periods of heavy rain will be possible late this afternoon into the overnight hours.  Rain chances will continue on Thursday.  Total rainfall through Friday morning will be 0.50” to 1.5” of rain in isolated areas.  The SPC also has NW Ohio in the “Marginal” risk category for severe weather late this afternoon and evening.  This storm system will allow for some rotation in the atmosphere that could cause an isolated brief tornado as well as damaging straight-line winds.  Please monitor weather conditions today and into this evening.

Shifting warm front increases chance of severe weather today

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: Forecast models are now indicating that a warm front will likely make it as far north as Central Wood County this afternoon, May 21,  (originally forecasted to move no further north than Findlay this morning).  As a result, the Storm Prediction Center has now included most of Wood County in the “Slight” risk category for severe weather this afternoon and evening.  Damaging straight-line winds, hail, and heavy rainfall will be the primary threats; however, near and just south of the warm front will have the potential to develop some rotation and an isolated tornado. At this hour, showers and some thunderstorms are developing across Indiana.  With the heating of the afternoon (and the more northerly position of the warm front), the atmosphere will destabilize and allow more thunderstorms to develop especially after 3:00 p.m. and into the evening hours.  Please monitor weather conditions closely this afternoon and evening.

Isolated chance of strong thunderstorms Thursday

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: Scattered showers and thunderstorms will become possible this evening and then become likely overnight tonight into the morning hours of Thursday.  If thunderstorms develop overnight tonight, widespread severe weather is not likely but there is an isolated chance of a stronger thunderstorm cell to move through the area.  Thunderstorms Thursday morning may become strong to some isolated severe cells.  The SPC has Wood County in the “Marginal” risk category  for Thursday.  An area of drier air may move into the area Thursday afternoon before more showers and thunderstorms move back into the area Thursday evening into early Friday morning.

Fire weather, thunderstorm advisories issued

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: The NWS has issued a Fire Weather WATCH from noon until 8 p.m. today.  Very low humidity and a brisk southwest wind will create conditions that will support rapid growth of fires…specifically grass, brush, and field fires. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has placed NW Ohio in the “Marginal” (lowest) risk category for severe weather on Thursday, May 3.  Thunderstorms that do develop do have a small chance to become strong to severe on Thursday.

Thunderstorm activity developing

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: Just a quick update on the potential for severe weather this afternoon and evening.  At this hour, thunderstorms are developing along the delayed warm front in the Central Indiana and Illinois area.  We should start to see an increase in rain coverage and thunderstorm activity in NW Ohio over the next few hours.  Exact positioning of the warm front this afternoon over Northern Ohio will determine where the stronger storms develop.  An indicator will be if/when you start feeling warmer temperatures (which will be short lived).  The SPC severe weather risk level remains at “Slight;” however, the “Enhanced” risk area has been moved up (from the south) as far as Findlay. The biggest chance for severe weather will be across Southwest Ohio and along the Ohio River to the Mississippi River.  The risk category for this area has been increased by the SPC to “Moderate” which makes it a very serious situation in that area.  If you are traveling south or know someone who is this afternoon and evening, please reconsider your travel plans or have a travel emergency plan in place. Please monitor local media and weather radios this afternoon and evening in the event severe weather does move into the area.

Thunderstorms Tuesday, possibly severe (updated)

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: At 2:30 p.m.  Monday April 2 The updated afternoon atmospheric forecast models have prompted the SPC to increase the “Slight” risk for severe weather category into NW Ohio (up one level from the earlier “Marginal” risk).  Along with this increase in risk, there is a small increase in the potential for a brief tornado based upon forecasted atmospheric conditions for the late afternoon and evening of Tuesday.  Damaging straight line winds, large hail, and potential flash flooding will remain the primary threats.  Timing for the strongest weather potential remains in the very late afternoon and into the evening hours (before 9pm). Please be “weather aware” on Tuesday and monitor local media or weather radios for the latest information.   Thismorning’sadvisory A rare sign of spring… A warm front will move through the area Tuesday morning ushering warm air and showers into Ohio.  Temperatures will surge to near 60 or even into the lower 60s before a cold front moves through the area Tuesday evening.  As the strong cold front approaches, thunderstorms are likely to develop and move through the area.  The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has NW Ohio in the “Marginal” (lowest) risk category for severe weather on Tuesday.  Damaging straight line wind and potential flash flooding will be the primary threats.  This storm system will also have considerable wind outside of thunderstorms, so expect windy conditions as the day goes on which will continue into the overnight hours with wind gusts (outside of the thunderstorms) potentially gusting to 45 mph especially as the cold front passes. Chances for rain (possibly heavy at times) will be fairly high in the morning hours as the warm front passes through the area.  A dry slot or area of no rain will likely develop in the early afternoon with scattered showers and thunderstorms possible by late afternoon.  A more organized line of showers and thunderstorms will be likely towards the 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. time frame as the cold front approaches and move through the area.  The best chance for stronger storms are in the evening hours. Again, a very short and rare sign of spring on Tuesday, but the cooler temperatures will return for the rest of the week and into next week.

Wood County expecting early morning snow Wednesday

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: We were just provided (at 5 p.m.)  an update of the strong storm system moving through the Ohio Valley tonight and tomorrow morning.  The storm is taking a slightly more northerly track which could push measurable snow up into the Wood County area Wednesday morning.  Up to 2” of snow is possible through Central and Southern Wood County with 1” or less expected in Northern Wood County.  Some areas near Fostoria in Southeastern Wood County could see slightly higher amounts in the morning. This is not a big snow maker, but we have not had measurable snow in several weeks so please allow extra travel time in the morning and use extra caution when traveling for the Wednesday morning commute.

Warm weather melts away need for long snowplow shifts

(Editor’s Note: Who would have thought winter would have ended so abruptly? After spending a couple hours in a city snowplow during the last “snow emergency,” the story sat in my notebook for more than a week as I waited for another snowy day. However, since the forecast is calling for spring-like temperatures for the next 10 days, I decided to post this now before summer-like weather arrives. Many thanks to Chris Mendieta for letting me ride shotgun for a couple hours, pushing me up into the truck when I got stuck midway, and for keeping the heat cranked up in the truck that morning.)   By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While much of Bowling Green sleeps, Chris Mendieta and his fellow city workers rumble past our homes to clear a path for us to get to work, school, wherever. It’s easy for citizens to complain about untouched side streets, or plowed in driveways. But few of them have sat in the same driver’s seat as Mendieta, high up in the 1999 snowplow. By 7 a.m., he has already been working on clearing streets since midnight, with another five hours until his shift ends. Mendieta’s route is Ward 1, and a portion of Ward 2. That means he has to squeeze the big truck through the narrow East Side streets like Reed and Merry. “These are really tight streets,” he said as he swung the truck onto Leroy Avenue. “These are big trucks to get through here.” The “snow emergency” has not yet been declared on this day, so the streets are still littered with parked cars. Mendieta points out the nicked utility poles on the opposite side of the road from parked cars. “You take your time,” but sometimes the plow scrapes up the poles in the driver’s attempt to avoid the cars, he said. The snow is coming down in big wet flakes as Mendieta turns onto North Enterprise. “I was just down this section an hour ago. You can’t even tell I was here,” he said. The goal in this kind of heavy snow is to make the busy streets passable, and dump salt at intersections, railroad crossings and on overpasses. Smaller streets and tidying up road surfaces will have to wait, he explained. Driving a snowplow takes concentration – especially with the older model trucks like Mendieta’s. The plow direction is frequently maneuvered…

Keep an eye on rising rivers

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following weather advisory: Light to sometimes moderate rain will continue through the morning hours before tapering off early this afternoon. Colder temperatures will also be moving into the area today and will mix with more precipitation from another storm system moving across Southeast Ohio tonight and tomorrow morning. A wintry mix will be possible late tonight and into the drive times Thursday morning. Conditions may become slippery with some freezing rain and sleet. Higher chances of mixed precipitation will be to our southeast (Akron to Mansfield to Lima). At this hour, the Portage River is cresting around 10.77 feet which is minor flood stage. Because of the current rain, the crest will likely last a little longer than normal; however, no major increases in river levels are anticipated at this time. At this hour, the Maumee River at Grand Rapids continues to rise. Mayor Berry reports that flood prone areas such as the campgrounds and park are beginning to fill with water. Forecast models indicate the river cresting in the minor flood stage; however, a lot of rain has fallen in the upper Maumee River basin in Northeast Indiana, so we will need to continue to monitor the Maumee River for days to come. Another weaker storm system will impact the area Friday through Sunday with mostly rain; however, Friday morning may also see a wintry mix at times. Please use extra caution when driving Thursday and Friday mornings.

Heavier snow on its way

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: The next storm system will move into the area after midnight Thursday night/Friday morning.  This will be a longer duration snowfall which will last through the early morning hours of Saturday.  Heavier snow bands are likely by late Friday morning and into the afternoon hours.  With the current projected path, the heavier snow (6”+ of new snow) will be north of the Maumee River and that area is currently under a Winter Storm WATCH.  Areas south of the Maumee River (including Wood County) are currently forecasted to be in the 3”-5” range.  Areas south of the Maumee River will likely have a Winter Weather ADVISORY issues by Thursday evening if the current forecasted storm path holds true. As the above information indicates, Wood County is very close to the heavier (6”+) forecasted snow area.  With snowfall still 38 hours away and there is always the potential for a slight change in the forecasted path of the storm, everyone should be prepared for the potential of heavier snow from this storm system should a slight change to the south occur.  It would only take 20 miles to the south of a change in the forecasted storm path to put Wood County into the heavier snow totals, so it is important to monitor local media and weather radios for the latest weather information over the next 48 hours. And yes, there is another likelihood of accumulating snow on Sunday…potentially heavier snowfall.  Again, please check with local media and weather radios over the weekend for the latest information on Sunday’s storm system.

Winter weather update on week’s second storm

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: The next storm system will impact Ohio overnight tonight (Feb. 6) and into at least the first half of Wednesday.  Snow will begin well after midnight tonight and begin to taper off by early afternoon on Wednesday.  Expected snowfall is around 2” total for this storm.  Once again, Northeast, Central, and Southeast Ohio will see the biggest impacts from this storm with 4”+ expected in those areas.  Obviously, this storm will have more of a solid impact on the Wednesday morning commute due to falling snow.  Winds are not expected to be an issue with this storm system. We are still monitoring the Thursday night/Friday storm system.  At this time it is starting to look like a few inches of new snow, but the exact path is still underdetermined, so forecasted snow totals could still go up or down.