December Myths and Other De-lights

Photo and video from Bureau of Land Management

This is my personal blog entry and does not reflect anyone else's opinion, not the station, not my family, nobody else.

It seems that every December, the rumors and myths get started. I'm not sure if it's because the nights are so long, or if the boredom is setting in. But I'll try to tackle a few of them as they always seem to pop up and people corner me, trying to get an answer.

First, there's been a mysterious light in the southern sky at night. "Is that the Christmas Star?"

Answer: Yes and No. The bright light is really the planet Venus, which may have been mistaken for the Christmas star two centuries or more ago. As the second closest planet to the sun, Venus varies in brightness, and it appear to reverse course, always returning to near the sun as either a "morning or evening star." The "three wise men" were no doubt astronomers and familiar with the movements of the five visible planets.

Second, a UFO has been observed in the Parkersburg/Belpre area on several nights. Some of reported it burst into flame. Others report three lights moving in concert. Has anyone else reported this?

Answer: No, you're the only one! That is, though individuals have insisted that it was a plane that crashed, or a set of UFOs moving at distance, it is more likely that they are seeing either a drone or radio control plane hovering.... or a Chinese lantern floating in still air until it's candle burns out. The area is almost always between Point Park and Fort Boreman, and never on the same nights.

Third, isn't the start of Winter the coldest night of the year?

Answer: No, it is fractionally the longest night of the year. But cold, like heat, lags quiet a bit. As a result, the coldest temperatures in the MOV are typically in February. The hottest occur in August. There is some variation in this too.

Fourth, It seems this year is more mild that other years. (Or, it's colder this year than other years.) Isn't this proof that global warming is not happening?

Answer: The average temperature of the globe IS rising. This is measured over a long period of time, and individual days, weeks or months are too small a period to make a judgement. Weather is what you experience outside your window today. Climate is the average temperature over a long period of time.

Fifth: It seems like winters were more harsh when I was a child.

Answer: True, we had more snowfall back then, and community resources were fewer and less well coordinated. There WAS a period of colder and more intense winter events in the 40s-50s-60s. But not consistently. Also, you were shorter, smaller and had a harder time climbing over drifts back then.

Sixth: Can't you control the weather? Please make it: hotter, colder, drier, wetter, snowier, less icy, etc.

Answer: There is no weather control at this time, though experiments have been done regarding "cloud seeding", production of acid rain, and reduction of air pollution. Also, there are no such things as "Chemtrails" as some conspiracy theorists would suggest. Remember, we breathe the same air as you.

Seventh: My cell phone seems to get severe weather info faster than I do from radio/TV/cable. Why is this?

Answer: Automated systems to relay alerts, warnings and instantaneous data are faster and improved over the last several years. This is a good thing. More people carrying smart phones can be alerted no matter what they are doing, and large numbers of people can be alerted simultaneously. And isn't that the point...to communicate current conditions as fast as possible for the public safety? We welcome this in concert with our ability to interpret and explain local conditions for everyone, including those without smart phones and only an over-the-air TV.

Eighth: Will we have a White Christmas this year?

Answer: No. It's too warm for snow. The odds for a White Christmas in this region are only one in four, and falling. (See Answer #4)

That's about enough for now. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family. Stay warm.