Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Monday, July 29, 2013
Q: I listen to the local weather from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather site near Poor Mountain.
When the “voice” signs on he starts by saying, “This is NOAA weather operating at 162.475 Megahertz,” then gives the location of the tower and says “All Hazards.” Can you dig up some info on this site, what they mean by “All Hazards,” and also what they mean by the heating or cooling days?
Any info you can provide would make an interesting article for many, I hope.
A: Thanks, Gary. I’m not sure that ALL of our readers will find this fascinating, but since weather seems to mean a LOT to some of us, I’ll give it a shot.
The go-to guy on all things weather related at the paper (and in the region, as far as I’m concerned) is Kevin Myatt. Kevin, a pleasant-enough looking fella, may never be voted sexiest man in Roanoke several years in a row as Robin Reed was in the ’90s, but he does risk life and limb each year to chase tornadoes, and his blog on roanoke.com generates massive website traffic whenever we have a weather event.
According to Myatt, the first part of your question is easy. “All Hazards” refers to it being known as “All Hazards NOAA weather radio.” This was a change a few years back because NOAA weather radio now carries nonweather emergencies.
So the weather service can be helpful with more than just storm warnings and flood watches. It provides information for three types of disasters: natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes and forest fires; technological events like oil spills or chemical releases; and public safety/national emergencies like terrorist attacks and Amber Alerts for missing children.
Heating and cooling days are a little more complicated, and seem to me to be one of those things like heat indexes and wind chills that help fill time on the Weather Channel, but there’s a bit more to it than that.
The reports are designed for use by engineers who are concerned about energy consumption. They were created to help relate the daily temperature to demand for fuel for heating and cooling.
This helps power companies determine how to manage production at hydroelectric dams or wind farms, nuclear reactors, or gas- or coal-fired plants so that we have enough juice in the pipeline when we go to crank up the heat or lower the air conditioning.
This may be more than you want to know, but it’s calculated by adding the high and low temperatures for the day, dividing by two and subtracting that number from 65. If the number is above 65, there are no heating degrees that day.
So if the high is 40 and the low is 20 degrees, you’d add those two together to get 60, then subtract that from 65. This would mean the heating degree day score was 5.
Cooling degree days work in kind of the same way for air conditioning, but I’ll spare you the details (though I’ll link to them on the What’s On Your Mind blog if you are interested).
Confused? Unless you are a heating and cooling engineer, I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but thanks for asking!
Have a question? An answer? Call “What’s on Your Mind?” at 777-6476 or send an email. Don’t forget to provide your full name, its proper spelling and your hometown.
Look for Tom Landon’s column on Mondays. Read the WOYM blog on roanoke.com anytime.
Weather JournalNext system: Possible ice/snow Sat.