Uncool Links of the Day: Coronavirus Information

In this rapidly escalating global crisis, there’s a ton of sites out there to monitor the situation. Here are some of the ones I think are most useful.

The Ohio Department of Health counts for Ohioans tested and those that have come back negative and positive. It is only updated once a day at 2pm, however.

The Reddit r/Coronavirus is a constant source of new information, not only in the US, but globally.

This is the best global case counter I know of. John Hopkins has a site as well with a map, but it has, ironically, been a recent target of hackers and so I’m not including it here. The World Meters site is seemingly updated live, and has a running total of every single confirmed case by nation and territory, as well as the numbers of recovered, active cases and deaths. All the numbers are sourced at the bottom of the page.

Here’s a link the CDC, which does a daily update on the situation.

Columbus Events #2

Date: July 9, 1913
Event Type: Weather

A severe hailstorm hit parts of the South Side on that Wednesday afternoon. In an issue of The Democratic Banner out of Mt. Vernon, the headline on July 11th read “Streets Covered with Ice Boulders: Destruction Wrought by Hail Storm at Columbus.”

The article went on:
This city was visited by probably the most disastrous hailstorm in its history. The damage to crops and buildings in this immediate vicinity is estimated conservatively at $125,000. (About $3.1 million today).
South Side florists alone report losses of approximately $50,000. In hundreds of houses practically every window was broken. The ground on the South Side was covered by a thick layer of “ice boulders” for an hour or two afterwards. As a midsummer phenomenon it probably was without a parallel in this state.

Accompanied by 45 mph winds, the hail that fell was reported to be about 3″ in diameter. The hail was large enough to hit and fracture the wrist of J.W. Sprouse, a teamster, and shattered glass from a greenhouse was driven through the arm of William Bernard, a florist.

Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913

I haven’t done a weather-specific post in a while, and this week marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous Great Lakes Hurricane. The storm lashed Ohio and other Great Lakes states for 3 days from November 9th-11th, 1913, causing widespread damage and loss of life. More than 250 died, mostly from drowning as 19 ships sank on the Great Lakes.

The storm began on the 9th as a pair of low-pressure systems collided over Michigan and the southern Lakes. Temperatures in the 50s and 60s dropped throughout the day on the 8th as the combined storm pulled a cold front across Ohio. A tight pressure gradient caused strong winds and rain turned to heavy snow. While the brunt of the storm hit the Cleveland area and adjacent lakeshore communities, the storm affected 3/4ths of Ohio, including Columbus.

A heavy rain began in Columbus on the 7th as the cold front moved through. Temperatures dropped from the mid-50s early on the 8th to the mid-30s by evening. On the 9th, as temperatures dropped to and below freezing, snow began to fall, becoming occasionally heavy throughout the day. Winds of 40mph in the Columbus area combined with the snow to create blizzard conditions throughout the 9th and early into the 10th, though not nearly as severe as they were on Lake Erie. Snowfall totals were 10″-20″ across all of Eastern Ohio, and the Cleveland area had up to 2 feet. Columbus, with its 7.5″ total, got off lucky, while Cincinnati had just 1 inch.

The storm remains as the most severe early winter storm in Ohio history.

Weather map fro November 8, 1913.

Weather map from November 10, 1913.

Headline from November 13, 1913.

More information on this storm can be found here:

Random Columbus Photo #1

On the hot, summer day of August 21, 1947, a thunderstorm hit the Columbus area that would produce a memorable and tragic event. A bolt of lightning struck the southwestern corner of the Broad Street Bridge in Downtown. Perhaps because of the extreme heat or structural deficiencies, the lightning caused part of the bridge to seemingly explode, and large chunks of the bridge collapsed into the Scioto River. While no cars fell off the bridge as a result, 4 pedestrians did. One of those pedestrians died the following day from sustained injuries. The bridge itself had been built as the replacement for the one destroyed during the great flood of 1913. After the incident in 1947, the bridge was repaired and continued to serve as the main Scioto River crossing at Downtown for another 43 years. In 1990, it was demolished and replaced by the current (and very similar looking) Discovery Bridge, completed in 1992 in time for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the “discovery” of America by the city’s namesake, Christopher Columbus.

The damage bridge.

2008: Year of the Wind

2008 was a year of extreme weather events, but aside from the March Blizzard, the biggest story of the year was its severe wind events, particularly from Hurricane Ike. Let’s take a look back.

January 8th-9th Severe Weather
Record warm temperatures in the upper 60s on the 7th-8th of January, 2008 gave way to storms and even a rare January Tornado Watch on the evening of the 8th. Winds had been gusty all during the day of the 8th, but reached their peak with the frontal passage storms. Rain and thunderstorms began moving into Ohio during the late afternoon and increased in intensity through the evening, prompting the NWS to issue a Tornado Watch just after 10pm. Although no tornadoes were reported anywhere in Ohio on the night of the 8th-9th, the storms brought with them rains of 1-2″ and winds of up to 70mph, causing many reports of minor structural damage and scattered power outages.

January 29th-30th Windstorm
The second, more intense wind event for January in Ohio came during the last few days of the month. A very strong low pressure moved north and west of Ohio as strong high pressure moved south into the Plains. The resulting gradient caused winds to increase. Winds were sustained between 30-35mph most of the 29th. When the front arrived during the evening hours, winds ramped up even more. Winds were sustained at 40-45 with gusts between 60-70mph. There was very little precipitation with this front. Damages were widespread.

On a personal note with this event, I witnessed several power poles bent over and large business signs blown out from the force of the January 29th-30th wind event.

Hurricane Ike and Ohio’s Worst Windstorm
On September 1st, 2008, a tropical depression formed in the central Atlantic Ocean. That same day, the depression strengthened enough to gain a name: Ike. No one in Ohio anticipitated that this storm, far out in the Atlantic, would cause the most widespread, destructive windstorm the state had ever seen.

Ike gradually became a hurricane and roared west and then southwest over Cuba before turning back to the northwest and into the Gulf of Mexico. He churned westward growing in size as he went. The windfield of the hurricane was gigantic. Hundreds of miles from the center, tropical storm force winds were pounding parts of the Gulf Coast, giving an indication of the wind and surge potential.

Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston, Texas early on Saturday, September 13th with maximum sustained winds of 110mph. After landfall, the system turned to the north and then to the northeast as it hooked up with a frontal boundary that was draped across the Midwest. The system became extratropical by the end of the day on the 13th and gradually accelerated to the north and east towards the Great Lakes.

Now, at this point, that would normally be the end of the story. A dying tropical system far inland tends to produce a lot of rain and flooding, but wind is not usually an issue. And indeed, parts of Indiana, Missouri, and Illinois saw major and disastrous flooding from a combination of the frontal boundary and the remains of Ike. However, a very unusual situation occurred.

Over the Gulf of Mexico and up through landfall, Ike was never quite able to translate upper level high winds down to the surface. The sustained reading of 110mph at landfall never seemed to actually materialize in reports on the ground, and the vast majority of the damage along the Texas coastline was due to significant storm surge brought in by the massive size of the storm. However, Ike’s inability to translate the highest winds to the surface was about to change.

Ike maintained a very low pressure of between 986 and 990 throughout the journey through the OV and Great Lakes, and as he transitioned from tropical to extratropical, the remains actually intensified and Ike retained a large amount of his original wind field, particularly on the eastern side.

No one forecasted this. The NWS, as late as Saturday evening, had forecast winds of 25mph in gusts for much of Ohio.

On the morning of Sunday, September 14th, 2008, the National Weather Service in Wilmington had issued a Wind Advisory for its forecast area calling for gusty winds of 20-30mph with gusts up to 50mph. However, things began to rapidly change. Kentucky was already getting rocked with high winds of over 50mph, and the winds seemed to intensify even more as the core began to move into Ohio through Cincinnati.

By late morning, winds in Cincinnati had reached a *sustained* speed of 54mph with gusts to hurricane force! These heavy winds began to ride up the I-71 corridor, reaching Wilmington by noon and Columbus by 2pm. For several hours, high winds pounded the area. Sustained winds over 50mph were common, and gusts of 70-80mph were widespread. The winds did not begin to die down until after 6pm, and by 8pm, the area had gone almost completely calm.

When the storm was over, over 1/10th of the entire state’s population was without power, including more than 55% of Columbus. Tens of thousands of trees had fallen, and debris of all kinds was everywhere. Power lines had been snapped, signs had been blown down, billboards had been destroyed, and thousands of homes and buildings had sustained damage. Power remained out for thousands for up to two weeks after the storm passed.

The story was the same up and down I-71 up through Cleveland, although damage there was less than that in central and southern parts of Ohio. The severe wind field was about 100 miles across and centered through the major cities on I-71. Insured losses from this storm totaled well over a billion dollars, and total damage likely exceeded two billion. This made the storm one of the most damaging natural disasters in Ohio history, exceeding those like the Blizzard of 1978 and perhaps even the Great Flood of 1913 in adjusted dollars.

Highest Wind Gusts in Ohio on 9/14/2008
Highest measured wind gusts — official observations
75 mph — Port Columbus International Airport (Franklin County, OH)
74 mph — Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Int’l Airport (Boone County, KY)
74 mph — Airborne Airpark, Wilmington, OH (Clinton County, OH)
69 mph — Bolton Field (Franklin County, OH)
69 mph — Rickenbacker Airport (Franklin County, OH)
68 mph — Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport (Montgomery County, OH)
63 mph — OSU Airport (Franklin County, OH)
61 mph — Cincinnati Lunken Municipal Airport (Hamilton County, OH)
60 mph — Dayton International Airport (Montgomery County, OH)
59 mph — Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Greene County, OH)

Highest measured wind gusts — unofficial observations
84 mph — West Chester, OH (Butler County)
78 mph — Lebanon, OH (Warren County)
77 mph — Wilmington, OH (Clinton County)
73 mph — Anna, OH (Shelby County)
66 mph — St. Mary’s, OH (Auglaize County)
65 mph — Baltimore, OH (Fairfield County)
65 mph — Trenton, OH (Butler County)
63 mph — Beavercreek, OH (Greene County)
61 mph — Springfield, OH (Clark County)
60 mph — Cleves, OH (Hamilton County
58 mph — Hamilton, OH (Butler County)
56 mph — Cincinnati, OH (Hamilton County)
49 mph — Greenville, OH (Darke County)

In general, the highest wind gusts and sustained wind were not the highest ever record in Columbus and other places, but they were generally in the top 5. However, previous events had generally been record in thunderstorms, and so were rather brief in duration. The multi-hour event of September 14, 2008, therefore, stands as one of the worst wind events in Ohio history.

Videos from around Ohio on 9/14/2008