NEWS ARTICLE from THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, By KATHERINE RIZZO, 3/15/00
WASHINGTON (AP) -- ... The International Joint Commission [IJC] recommended preemptive steps the two nations could take to impede future water entrepreneurs without actually banning big water sales.
"We have come up with a recommendation which, in my own opinion, would make it virtually impossible to come with any large-scale removal" of Great Lakes water, said Leonard Legault, chairman of the International Joint Commission's Canadian section ...
The commission concluded that despite the lakes' abundance -- 6 quadrillion gallons of water -- since only 1 percent gets replenished each year with rain and melting snow, the Great Lakes don't have a single drop to spare.
Communities along the lakes and their connecting rivers already draw out some 55 billion gallons each day for irrigation, manufacturing, electricity and drinking water. About 52 billion gallons of that remains in the Great Lakes basin, either evaporating, seeping into ground water or being discharged after treatment.
The commission suggested that any future water-using projects be required to maintain that ratio, and return into the system at least 95 percent of the amount taken out.
It also suggested the states, provinces and federal governments should require that any new large-scale water removal project first show it has no practical alternative to taking water out of the Great Lakes basin; that the region's ecosystem wouldn't be hurt; and that the destination community has instituted water conservation.
To back up the demand for conservation by potential customers, the Great Lakes states should institute their own conservation standards, the report said.
"In the charter that was signed by the two provinces and eight states in 1985, they made a commitment in that document to speak to each other and plan a conservation program for the Great Lakes," said Thomas Baldini, chairman of the IJC's American section.
"We're suggesting to them that they get on with it."
The report urged governments on both sides of the border to be cautious about acting on any water removal requests for the next 24 months, to give legislators time to get standards in place.
The commission did not suggest banning future water sales because of potential conflicts with the North American Free Trade Agreement and other international trade pacts.
However, international trade law does allow Canada and the United States to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem with measures that would apply equally to local and foreign water users.
The Council of Canadians, an environmental group, did not find that reassuring.
If an outright ban is too potentially costly under NAFTA, then NAFTA should be renegotiated, campaign coordinator Jo Dufay said from Ottawa.
"They should go beyond what the IJC is calling for," she said.
Dufay also was pessimistic about prospects for getting a water conservation standard in place in the states and provinces. "To get that level of agreement is impossible," she said.
In Washington, Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he wasn't certain that equally applied environmental standards would protect the lakes from future water raids.
"The World Trade Organization has ruled against every environmental law that has been brought before it, pronouncing these policies barriers to trade," he said. "We need to be sure our natural resources aren't at the mercy of unaccountable trade lawyers."
Legislation has been introduced in Congress to impose a two-year moratorium on bulk water sales from the Great Lakes, but those bills have not yet advanced to the point of a committee hearing.
In Canada, legislation banning Great Lakes water exports is before the House of Commons, and the federal government has been negotiating with the provinces on a pact that would prevent bulk exports of all other Canadian water.
Canada's environment minister, David Anderson, said the IJC report "reinforces our strategy to prohibit bulk water removals, including recognition of the environmental basis for action."
The report covered only the Great Lakes, even though the IJC has authority over all of the boundary waters shared by the two nations.
On the web: The full report of the International Joint Commission is posted at http://www.ijc.org
NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 4-2-07, By the Associated Press
``Great Lakes water deals irk some
In 1998, an Ontario consultant sent a shudder through the Great Lakes region by proposing to ship Lake Superior water to Asia. The plan quickly sank. But it inspired the eight states and two Canadian provinces adjoining the lakes to devise a strategy for warding off raids on the system that holds nearly 20 percent of the world's fresh surface water. Their governors reached a deal in 2005, but it takes effect only if ratified by the state legislatures and Congress. In this series, Protecting the Lakes, The Associated Press examines how the pact is faring in the statehouses and why some lawmakers don't like it.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- As governors of the Great Lakes states debated how to prevent outsiders from staking a claim to their precious water, advocates warned that without a deal, the region would be at the mercy of an increasingly powerful -- and thirsty -- Sun Belt. But since the eight governors shook hands on a water compact in December 2005, the loudest complaints have surfaced within the Great Lakes region itself, where people find it easier to say "no" to Arizona than to restrain their own appetites.
With limited exceptions, the accord would prohibit diverting water from the lakes and the rivers linking them, which together hold nearly 20 percent of the world's fresh surface supply. That's a popular idea across a watershed extending more than 2,300 miles from the mouth of the St. Lawrence River to the Lake Superior port of Duluth, Minn.
What many don't like is that the compact also instructs the Great Lakes states to regulate their water use and adopt conservation plans, in keeping with regional standards. The rules could affect virtually anything requiring lots of water, from sewage treatment to irrigation to manufacturing cars.
That explains why the pact has been approved by lawmakers in just one state -- Minnesota, where it passed in February, although the Illinois House and Senate were preparing to vote. It takes effect only with ratification by all eight legislatures and Congress.
Bills are pending in Indiana and Michigan but aren't close to enactment. The compact imposes no deadline, and supporters say they're confident it will be ratified. But the longer the delay, they say, the greater the risk of losing control over their water.
"It's OK to take a year or two to sort this out, but then they'd better buckle down and get on the same page," said Noah Hall, an environmental law professor at Wayne State University. "The real attacks are going to come in Congress, from states outside the region who don't want to see the Great Lakes locked up." Skeptics doubt the supposed threat from arid regions. Shipping or piping water over such distances would pose staggering costs and engineering challenges, they say.
Still, "the time to put in place good water management is when you don't have a problem," said George Kuper, president of the Council of Great Lakes Industries, which represents the likes of Dow Chemical Co. and U.S. Steel Corp.
The governors began negotiations in 2001, concerned that a federal law empowering any of them to veto proposed diversions wouldn't survive if challenged in court.
Legal experts said an interstate compact treating the lakes, their connecting channels and the streams and groundwater feeding them as one shared system would be more defensible ...
"It's based on the idea that how people use water in places like Duluth and Green Bay has an impact on people in Cleveland and Toronto, and they all ought to have a say," said Todd Ambs, water administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
One of the toughest issues is playing out in Wisconsin, where a legislative panel is struggling over a plan for implementing the compact: what to do about communities within Great Lakes states but outside the lakes' drainage basin.
Although just 15 miles west of Lake Michigan, the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha is barely on the other side of the natural divide. Its wells are contaminated, and local officials want to tap into the lake.
The compact might allow it, because Waukesha is part of a county that straddles the watershed boundary. But it requires unanimous consent of the eight states' governors, which the city considers an unfair burden. The Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce is lobbying to amend the compact so one state can't veto diversions to straddling counties.
"Our argument is not to eliminate the compact. Our argument is to make sure it's fair," said Brian Nemoir, the chamber's leader on the issue. Illinois and Michigan have little incentive to approve diversions to growing communities in Wisconsin, their competitors for industry and jobs, Nemoir said. He noted that when New Berlin, Wis., floated the idea of a diversion last year, Michigan officials quickly turned thumbs down.
Compact supporters said Michigan, itself almost entirely within the basin, acted properly. Diversions shouldn't be allowed until the compact is ratified, they said. Even then, the bar should be high to discourage runaway sprawl and limit how much water escapes the basin.
"Otherwise, you open the floodgates," said Cameron Davis, president of the Chicago-based Alliance for the Great Lakes. The basin's other straddlers are watching the situation closely -- including large cities such as Indiana's Fort Wayne and South Bend. Akron, Ohio, already gets water from a diversion but under the compact would need its state's permission to expand it.
Ohio is another battleground. State Sen. Tim Grendell, an outspoken property rights advocate, wants the states to renegotiate parts of the compact -- particularly its declaration that Great Lakes waters are held in public trust ...
The pact also grants excessive powers to a regional council that could undermine state sovereignty by preventing them from using water for economic development, he said. Compact supporters said it honors existing rights under state and federal law. The public trust doctrine has been settled law since the late 1800s and simply balances the needs of individuals and society, said Hall, the Wayne State professor.
Either way, Grendell raised enough concern to stall the compact in the Ohio Senate last year after it cleared the House with strong backing from outgoing Republican Gov. Bob Taft.
In New York, lame-duck Gov. George Pataki's support couldn't overcome Senate distaste for a provision allowing private citizens to sue government agencies over failure to enforce the pact's environmental standards. A lawyer's bonanza, critics said.
Sen. George Maziarz, a Niagara County Republican planning to sponsor a ratification bill this year, says the compact grants no more access to the courts than citizens enjoy under other environmental laws. Still, the threat of litigation would deter "back scratching among the states -- you approve my diversion and I'll approve yours," said Davis of the Alliance for the Great Lakes ...
Two Canadian provinces -- Ontario and Quebec -- are within the Great Lakes watershed. Because they couldn't legally make treaties with the states, both sides signed a nonbinding agreement nearly identical to the compact.
Supporters say the compact gives states flexibility to handle local concerns in their own water-use rules. They want legislators to approve it as written by the governors, saying amendments could make it unravel.
"The governors looked at all these issues and found ways to delicately handle them," said Molly Flanagan, a Great Lakes specialist with the National Wildlife Federation in Ann Arbor. "Now is not the time to renegotiate the deal. Now is the time to get it done."''
EDITORIAL from The Plain Dealer, 1-2-08
``Failure of Ohio Senate to prevent legal larceny' of Great Lakes water would be unconscionable
Within a matter of weeks, the Ohio House will again take decisive action to protect Northeast Ohio's most precious asset -- its bountiful supply of fresh water.
This deja vu moment will come a little more than two years after the House voted 82-5 to approve a compact with other Great Lakes states designed to prevent other parts of the country from raiding the Earth's largest supply of fresh water.
In many parts of the West and the Southwest, booming economies are running out of the water they need to sustain their growth. They're already angling to tap into the mother of all fresh water supplies -- ours.
A federal law passed in 1986 supposedly prevents other parts of the country from taking Great Lakes water, but many legal experts call that protection a "paper wall" that would not withstand a constitutional challenge.
That is why the eight Great Lakes governors agreed more than two years ago to an agreement designed to withstand any legal challenge -- a compact that would drastically restrict the ability of other states to siphon off any of our 6 quadrillion gallons (that's 15 zeroes) of fresh water.
But legislatures in those states must first approve the compact. Three states have done so, and momentum is building for passage by state legislatures in two more -- Michigan and Wisconsin.
Then there's Ohio.
After the House first approved the compact, it died in the Senate, largely due to opposition from State Sen. Tim Grendell, whose district includes all of Geauga and Lake counties, and part of Cuyahoga. Grendell ... [has] complained the compact threatens private property rights -- a claim most dismiss. Nevertheless, the compact's main sponsor in the House, State Rep. Matthew Dolan of Geauga County, says the new version he introduced Dec. 18  will include even more protections for property owners.
Gov. Ted Strickland is a strong supporter of the compact, as is anyone who cares even a little bit about Northeast Ohio's future.
As the Traverse City (Mich.) Record-Eagle said in a Dec. 21  editorial, this compact is imperative to protect the Great Lakes states from "legal larceny and other threats." It continued, "The surest way to control our own destiny is to have the clout needed to fend off future water raids."
... Of all of Ohio's assets, none comes close to matching the importance of our abundant supply of fresh water.
And there is no place in public life for elected officials who would put at risk the future of that water supply. ''
The Latest News
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF AVON, OHIO, TO 1974
[2014 Bincentennial Surprise -- Frazil ice blocks intakes
Frozen intakes are cleared to restore drinking water]
Filed by bwroten January 15th, 2014 in News.
By Bryan Wroten
A last-minute diving and pump bypass operation Jan. 8  coordinated by Avon Lake Municipal Utilities allowed utilities to work around the frazil ice that blocked the intake pipes almost half a mile out into Lake Erie, restoring drinking water to roughly 200,000 customers throughout Northeast Ohio.
Frazil ice forms during unusual weather phenomena and lake conditions, Chief Utilities Executive Todd Danielson said. On extremely cold nights without clouds or wind, the air becomes very cold, he said ... it starts to ice ..., not like a layer on top of a pond, but more like slush.
The frazil ice formed where the intakes were, and the intakes pulled the frazil ice inside, where it became stuck on the grates used to keep out debris.
"As you can imagine, as slush passes over the screens and grates in the lake, like on a car, it grows and grows and grows," he said. "It reduces the capability to pull water in."
There are a number of ways to fix it, he said. Warmer water is one way, but short of heating the lake, the utility can add chemicals safe for drinking water to the water in the intakes or reverse the flow to try to push the ice free of the screens.
After attempts [at] backwashing the intake along with adding brine water to lower the freezing point inside the intakes hadn't progressed enough, Danielson said, the ALMU crew suggested they try adding pumps to the system. They contacted a company in Painesville they've worked with in the past with bypass pumps. By the evening, Kendera Construction had created a temporary road for the company to deliver the pumps directly by the lake.
"We had to go where we could break through the ice (in the lake)," Danielson said. "The first couple hundred feet was solid to the bottom or had so little water available they were not able to draw it out. The divers came in and helped us, about 200 to 350 feet out, and cut holes in the ice."
It was about midnight when the first pump started working, he said, and between 2 and 3 a.m. Jan. 9, all three bypass pumps were pulling water into the water plant.
By slowing down the pull of water through the intakes, he said, that helped break free the ice or erode it. By about 5 a.m. that day, he said, they were able to pull in an amount equal to 25 million gallons per day when added to the bypass pumps' 6 to 7 million.
"In the first couple hours of the morning [on 1-9-14], between 6 and 8 am, we were able to push water back out to customers," Danielson said, "first in the Lorain County Rural Water Authority, and then in the eastern transmission lines to Medina city and county."
At this time of year, the utilities pull in about 16 to 17 million gallons of water a day, he said. Because of the attempts to flush out the frazil ice by reversing the flow through the intakes, he wasn't able to provide an answer as to how much the ice constricted the flow of water into the water plant.
"It was cut down to levels we were asking for conservation so it doesn't get worse," he said.
Avon Lake has about 9,000 households buying drinking water from ALMU, but Avon Lake only makes up about 15 percent of the total customers ALMU serves. Along with selling bulk water to the city of Avon and Sheffield Lake, it also sells water in bulk to Medina County and the Rural Lorain County Water Authority.
While ALMU's other customers asked their residents to take more stringent measures, such as Avon's asking residents to stop using water altogether the night of Jan. 8, ALMU only asked Avon Lake residents to cut down on nonessential uses of water, saving it only for cooking, hand washing and the like.
Avon Lake residents didn't need to stop using water altogether because ALMU stopped distributing water to its bulk customers in the rural water authority and Medina the morning of Jan. 8, he said. Had residents not listened to the requests to conserve water as well as they did, he said, the city would have been on a boil alert for days.
Following the de-icing of the intakes, Danielson said, ALMU will review the situation and look to see what steps it can take to prevent the buildup of frazil ice in the intakes. There are a number of options, including heating the grates, but they come with a cost.
"What is the investment worth to reduce the chances of this in the future?" he asked. "As for low-cost investments, we'll obviously make those. How many of those insurances is enough for us, how far should we go -- that's a decision we will be able to make over the next several months, talking with all jurisdictions as it relates to us."
Contact Bryan Wroten at firstname.lastname@example.org
Crisis management: After a rocky start, ALMU relies on CodeRED, social media during water shortage
Filed by bwroten January 15th, 2014 in News.
By Bryan Wroten
Throughout the water shortage emergency last week, drinking water customers of Avon Lake Municipal Utilities looked to reverse emergency phone calls, social media and local news reports to stay up to date to learn about the shortage and learn what to do next ...
ALMU Chief Utilities Executive Todd Danielson said they contacted the bulk customers just after midnight on Jan. 8  to let them know about the frazil ice blocking the intakes from the lake. In the early morning, he said, ALMU contacted its large commercial customers. Shortly after that, he said, the utilities decided to request additional conservation from its residential customers ...
Contact Bryan Wroten at email@example.com
Biggest cold weather impact on Avon was limited water supply
Filed by rturman January 15th, 2014 in News.
By Rebecca Turman
Mother Nature had several surprises in store for residents of Northeast Ohio last week, and Avon wasn't the exception.
Avon residents were asked to become more conservative with their water usage last Wednesday [1-8-14] and early Thursday as the below-freezing temperatures affected Avon Lake's ability to access its water supply ...
The morning of Jan. 8, with water levels dropping rapidly in Avon's water tower, Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen said in an interview this week, "We figured we had about 22 hours to go (until the city ran out of the supply)."
"What we tried to do was err on the side of caution," Jensen said. "If they (Avon Lake) shut us off (from the water supply), we had about three or four hours (worth) of water."
Had a fire emergency come up during the time water conservation was required, Jensen said plans were put in place to connect "from fire hydrant to fire hydrant into Westlake," but luckily it didn't come to that.
"It still wouldn't have had a lot of pressure or ability to handle that (a fire emergency)," Jensen said.
Avon's tanker fire engines were already stocked with water, but the city had also borrowed a fire truck from LaGrange to be on the safe side, Jensen said.
While Avon schools delayed their return from winter break two days because of the bitter cold temperatures and snow, students still had school when the Wednesday and Thursday water conservation issues came up.
In terms of other water issues, Jensen said the city didn't have any major water breaks as a result of the freeze or warm-up ...
To date, the salt supply in the city is solid, according to Jensen, but the day he was sworn in to office -- Jan. 2 , the stockpile wasn't in as good shape.
Jensen said Service Director Mike Farmer warned him of the problem that day, and the issue was resolved quickly.
"I think it's somewhere around 2,000 tons that we like to have in stock, and it was less than 1,000 tons at that time," he said. "We've used more salt (this year already) than we did all of last year."
Contact Rebecca Turman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Frazil ice is a collection of loose, randomly oriented needle-shaped ice crystals in water. It resembles slush and has the appearance of being slightly oily when seen on the surface of water. It sporadically forms in open, turbulent, supercooled water, which means that it usually forms in rivers, lakes and oceans, on clear nights when the weather is colder, and air temperature reaches -6°C or lower. Frazil ice is the first stage in the formation of sea ice.
When the water surface begins to lose heat rapidly, the water becomes supercooled. Turbulence, caused by strong winds or flow from a river, will mix the supercooled water throughout its entire depth. The supercooled water will already be encouraging the formation of small ice crystals (frazil ice) and the crystals get taken to the bottom of the water body. Ice generally floats, but due to frazil ice's small size relative to current speeds, it has an ineffective buoyancy and can be carried to the bottom very easily.
Through a process called secondary nucleation, the crystals quickly increase in number, and because of its supercooled surrounding, the crystals will continue to grow. Sometimes, the concentration is estimated to reach one million ice crystals per cubic meter.
As the crystals grow in number and size, the frazil ice will begin to adhere to objects in the water, especially if the objects themselves are at a temperature below water's freezing point. The accumulation of frazil ice often causes flooding or damage to objects such as trash racks. Since frazil ice is found below the surface of water, it is difficult to detect its formation ...
Frazil ice has also been demonstrated to form beneath temperate (or "warm-based") glaciers as water flows quickly uphill and supercools due to a rapid loss of pressure. This "glaciohydraulic supercooling" process forms an open network of platy ice crystals that can effectively trap silt from the sediment-laden water that flows beneath glaciers and ice sheets.
Subsequent freezing and recrystallization can result in a layer of sediment-rich ice at the base of the glacier which, upon melting at the terminus, can result in significant accumulation of sediment in moraines. This phenomenon has been verified by elevated concentrations of [atomic] bomb-produced tritium in the basal ice of several glaciers (signifying young ice) and the observation of rapid growth of ice crystals around water discharge vents at the glacier termini.
What is a Polar Vortex?
By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
January 08, 2014; 5:11 AM
As the coldest air in 20 years surges into major population centers in the United States, many are raising eyebrows over its rare cause: the positioning of the polar vortex.
A polar vortex is a large pocket of very cold air, typically the coldest air in the Northern hemisphere, which sits over the polar region during the winter season.
The frigid air found its way into the United States when the polar vortex was pushed South, reaching southern Canada and the northern Plains, Midwest and northeastern portions of the United States.
"This is why we've had such extreme cold," Expert Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
What Caused the Polar Vortex to Move?
"The polar vortex moves around at times during the course of the winter, but rarely do you see it get pushed this far south," Anderson said.
A large, powerful high pressure system originating in the Eastern Pacific is stretching to the North Pole, shoving the vortex farther south than is typical, allowing it to settle in Canada and the U.S.
"These high pressure systems can reach Alaska, but it is not typical to stretch all the way to the North Pole," Anderson said.
The vortex is threatening temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the Plains and in the negative 20s and negative teens farther into the Midwest.
"The high pressure system, paired with the extensive snow cover over southern Canada and the northern United States, is allowing the air to stay very cold," according to Anderson ...
White House tackles climate change and polar vortex
US scientists push back at contrarian claims that cold weather disproves climate change
The "We the Geeks" discussion with government and independent scientists is the second push back this week from the White House at contrarian claims that cold weather disproved climate change.
On Wednesday, [1-8-14] Obama's science advisor, John Holdren, took on the climate change deniers in a two-minute video. "If you've been hearing that extreme cold spells like the one we're having in the United States now disprove global warming, don't believe it," Holdren said. "The fact is that no single weather episode can either prove or disprove global climate change."
But he concluded: "I believe the odds are that we can expect as a result of global warming to see more of this pattern of extreme cold in the mid-latitudes and some extreme warm in the far north." ...
The president in a milestone climate speech last June  rejected the validity of denier arguments, saying: "We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society."...
January 9, 2014
Investors hunt for the financial `polar vortex'
By Ralph Atkins
We know little about how the financial system is functioning
The world watched fascinated this week as a polar vortex -- a type of cyclone -- brought dangerously icy weather to the US, tracking its moves across the country and observing its ferocity. If only following global financial flows was as easy.
Six years after  the eruption of the financial crisis -- a period that coincided with big leaps in technology and big data handling -- we know remarkably little about how the financial system is functioning or where the next ice storm might break.
The Financial Times this week attempted to correct the information deficit with an analysis of flows of capital across national borders over the past decade. Using data compiled by the McKinsey Global Institute, it showed the huge expansion of bank loans and of flows into equities, bonds and direct investment in the years up to 2007.
Subsequently, the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank in September 2008 threw those flows into reverse. The post-crisis revival has been modest -- flows are still about 70 per cent lower than their pre-crisis peak.
While hopefully providing a useful first draft of economic history, it was not the complete picture, however. The data, based on changes in stocks over a 12 month period, did not capture massive daily trading volumes. Moreover the latest statistics that were suitable for global comparisons covered only the period up until the middle of 2013. What happened after that is largely guesswork.
Emerging market chill
Still unclear is exactly how capital flows reacted in the months after May 22 , when Ben Bernanke, the US Federal Reserve chairman, sent a severe chill through emerging countries financial markets by hinting at plans to scale down, or "taper" the Fed's asset purchases. Equities, currencies and bond prices in emerging markets tumbled as investors switched into US or European markets.
At least, we assume there were sudden outflows, especially from those emerging economies that had become reliant on foreign capital -- but we do not have a map of how much and from where. That uncertainty may have added to the instability.
The difficulty is that, unlike weather patterns, financial flows cannot be measured simply and objectively with barometers, thermometers, rain gauges or wind vanes. Much of the information is private; its collection is slow, expensive, inevitably incomplete and subject to endless arguments among economists over methodology and interpretation.
We know less about financial flows than we do about overall economic activity; purchasing managers' indices, for instance, provide relatively timely indicators of growth rates in the major economies. Inflation indicators are almost real time.
Academic economists are researching the huge experiments in monetary policy pursued by the world's central banks since 2008. But it will be many years before there is anything near consensus on the impact on financial systems of global quantitative easing ...
In the information vacuum, decisions are based on hunches. In early 2013, bond yields, which move inversely with prices, tumbled globally on expectations that huge QE [quantitative easing] by the Bank of Japan would result in Japanese funds flooding into overseas assets [see the Fukishima disaster]. Evidence of actual flows was scant ...
The data deficit is arguably more of a problem for regulators and central banks. A lesson of the crisis years was the need to focus on systemic risks to the financial system. Absent comprehensive data on financial flows, it is harder to spot bubbles or other potential sources of instability ...
While capital flows can fund economic growth and job creation, too much "hot money", easy bank loans and speculative portfolio investment create bubbles and dangerous volatility.
But meteorologists would not agree on what are the best weather conditions. At least if a big chill is forecast we know to stay indoors.
Polar vortices across the solar system
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
If you live in the U.S. you've heard a lot about the "polar vortex" that's making lives miserable for nearly everybody on the continent this week. ... I guess a comment was made somewhere that the notion of a polar vortex was a recent invention -- I did not see that original comment, but I saw the response to it by all the atmospheric scientists I follow on Twitter.
I was particularly amused by a retweet of television meteorologist Al Roker's response: he went to his bookshelf and pulled out the 1959 American Meteorological Society Glossary of Meteorology and showed that there was such a thing as a polar vortex being discussed even in those ancient times ...
Now, I am not an atmospheric scientist. But one thing I have learned well about atmospheric science is that what happens in Earth's atmosphere, usually happens in other atmospheres. Indeed, there is a polar vortex in every atmosphere -- it's just what happens when there is an atmosphere over a spinning ball. So here's a little tour of polar vortices in the solar system.
Mercury has no atmosphere -- it has an "exosphere", which essentially means that although there are molecules moving about in the space above the solid surface, there are too few of them for collisions to take place. Without collisions, you have no wind, no circulation.
Next out is Venus. Venus has wonderful polar vortices -- in fact, there is usually a dipole, a double vortex at each pole. That's what Pioneer Venus saw, and it's also what Venus Express usually sees ...
The Moon, like Mercury, only has an exosphere. So the next circulating-air-world is Mars. Mars has a polar vortex, too ...
I knew that there have been cameras at Mars to monitor its weather for decades, the wide-angle camera on Mars Global Surveyor and its successor, MARCI on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. But those data sets are not easy to use. Thankfully, MARCI scientist Bruce Cantor was able to help me out with [a] lovely image from MARCI of the Martian polar vortex. He was careful to point out that the vortex is not circular; it's oval-shaped. Just like on Venus ...
The oval shape of Mars' north polar vortex is referred to as a "wave-2 type" structure. What does that mean? If you ... [made a] cylindrical projection, the north polar vortex would look like a wavy horizontal band, with two peaks and two valleys.
Moving outward, none of the asteroids retains an atmosphere, so next we go to the outer planets. I'm going to let just one planet stand in for all of them -- Saturn. I wrote at length about the cool shape of the north polar atmospheric circulation.
Saturn's north polar vortex doesn't have a wave-2 type structure; it has a wave-6 type structure. That makes it look like a hexagon ...
And finally, there's Titan, which has developed a very interesting-looking south-polar vortex since the passage through equinox ... Titan's polar vortex has the same oval (wave-2) shape that Mars' does, except that it's much smaller. I'm really surprised by its fast motion; remember that Titan rotates at the same speed that it orbits Saturn, once every 16 days. The atmosphere moves much faster than the moon itself does ...
Where else are there atmospheres in the solar system, apart from the other three giant planets? One notable type of atmosphere-bearing world I haven't mentioned yet lies in the Kuiper belt. Pluto has an atmosphere, and so does Neptune's moon Triton, for that matter ...
[El Nino versus The Polar Vortex]
Filed on March 7, 2014 by the Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Relief may be on the way for a weather-weary United States with the predicted warming of the central Pacific Ocean brewing this year that will likely change weather worldwide. But it won't be for the better everywhere.
The warming, called an El Nino, is expected to lead to fewer Atlantic hurricanes and more rain next winter for drought-stricken California and southern states, and even a milder winter for the nation's frigid northern tier next year, meteorologists say.
While it could be good news to lessen the southwestern U.S. drought and shrink heating bills next winter in the far north, 'worldwide it can be quite a different story,' said North Carolina State University atmospheric sciences professor Ken Kunkel. 'Some areas benefit. Some don't.' Globally, it can mean an even hotter year coming up and billions of dollars in losses for food crops.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration issued an official El Nino watch Thursday [3-6-14]. An El Nino is a warming of the central Pacific once every few years, from a combination of wind and waves in the tropics. It shakes up climate around the world, changing rain and temperature patterns.
Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, says the El Nino warming should develop by this summer, but that there are no guarantees ...
The flip side of El Nino is called a La Nina, which has a general cooling effect. It has been much more frequent than El Ninos lately, with five La Ninas and two small-to-moderate El Ninos in the past nine years. The last big El Nino was 1997-1998. Neither has appeared since mid-2012. El Ninos are usually strongest from December to April.
Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who wasn't part of NOAA's forecast, agreed that an El Nino is brewing ...
Scientific studies have tied El Ninos to farming and fishing problems and to upticks in insect-born disease, such as malaria. Commodity traders even track El Nino cycles. A study by Texas A&M University economics professor Bruce McCarl found the last big El Nino of 1997-1998 cost about $3 billion in agricultural damage.
Trenberth said this El Nino may even push the globe out of a decade-long slowdown in temperature increase, so suddenly global warming kicks into a whole new level ... [Even if the global warming game is lost, CO2 emissions should be reduced because the high atmosperic CO2 concentration is poisoning the oceans with carbonic acid]
The climate event got the name El Nino, meaning the boy in Spanish, when it was first noticed off the coast of Peru and Ecuador around Christmas time and was named after the Christ child, according to Trenberth.
[Avon declares interest in taking Creekside Place by eminent domain -- May 12 flood of the 2014 Bicentennial]
Filed by shanerogers July 2nd, 2014
By Shane Rogers
AVON -- On Monday [6-30-14], Mayor Bryan Jensen and the City of Avon officially declared their interest in acquiring the land that was to be developed into Creekside Place.
Owned by Matt Garland of Garland New Homes, the proposed development sits in the southeast quadrant of the city, which experienced massive flooding after the May 12  rainstorms ...
When Garland was initially granted permission to develop Creekside Place, it appeared that it was outside of the flood plain. After May 12, however, it was clear that the geography of the flood plain agreed upon by the city and Garland was wrong, as water stood in the streets and surrounding houses on Kensington Drive, which adjoins what would be Creekside Place.
"I always think Matt (Garland) builds a nice house," Jensen said. "It just is unfortunate that the spot he wants to build is not going to benefit the residents around that area because of what the flooding can do to the rest of the area."
According to Jensen, with the city only officially declaring its interest in the land as of last week (after weeks of discussion), the next step is to get the area appraised. The city hopes to have the appraisal done relatively quickly so it can move on with the process.
According to the city law Director John Gasior, the [eminent domain] process after the appraisal is relatively straightforward, but could take up to a couple of months. Once council passes an official declaration of interest in the land, Garland will have 30 days to decide to take the money it was appraised for or take it to court.
If taken to court, the monetary value of the land will then be determined by a jury, with both sides incurring the costs of the legal battle. "When you appropriate land, it's hard to say it's a fight," Gasior said. "It becomes a discussion of values."
If the city is able to secure the land, it hopes to move forward by partnering with the Lorain County Metro Parks. Jensen hopes the city and the parks system will be able to come up with a plan for flood and wetland mitigation that fits within the Metroparks' budget. He also hopes to have walking trails and use the area for other recreational purposes ...
After hearing of the decision, residents have already called into City Hall thanking the city for listening to their concerns and taking action. It's the city's hope ... that it will give those residents who live near the proposed Creekside Place a peace of mind while also helping increase their property values ...
Contact Shane Rogers at email@example.com
Avon City Council ordinance would halt development in French Creek Watershed
By Adriana Cuevas, The Morning Journal
AVON -- City officials are looking to keep their heads above water, approving new legislation in an effort to improve flooding issues in Avon.
During the May 27  regular meeting of council, city officials presented an ordinance to impose a 90-day halt development within the French Creek Watershed district. Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen said the development moratorium was pursued by city officials because of the amount of rainfall the city received May 12  that caused residences and businesses near French Creek, Mills Creek, and Schwartz Creek to flood and experience significant damage to real and personal property.
The development freeze will provide the city with some much-needed time to explore options for alleviating flooding issues in that specific area. The moratorium will more specifically place a hold on the development of a new 48-home Creekside Place subdivision,
Jensen said. "We had a lot of rainfall in that area that we weren't really expecting, which led to a lot of residential home damage," Jensen said. "Upon looking at the numbers FEMA gave us to assess possible rainfall in that general area, things didn't end up quite how we were expecting, so this moratorium is a way for us to pause and reassess things ...
Apart from the approved legislation, Jensen said he hopes implementing a bypass at Avon Isle and installing a 36-inch storm sewer at Nagel Road will further assist the city in addressing flooding problems ...
As an added measure, council also voted to amend legislation to re-establish Avon's stormwater management standards for the purpose of improving stormwater quality and minimizing damage to residents' homes and businesses citywide. The amended ordinance involves altering the city's stormwater management practices to ensure stormwater drain time is long enough to allow crews to provide treatment and prevent erosion ...
Already in the process of working on a regional flooding plan with Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka, North Ridgeville Mayor David Gillock, Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring and Sheffield Village Mayor John Hunter, Jensen said he hopes to soon host an additional meeting with Congressman Bob Gibbs, state Sen. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), Lorain County commissioners, and state Reps. Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) and Terry Boose (R-Norwalk) ...
Reach the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Avon working to battle high waters
Filed by shanerogers May 29th, 2014 in News.
By Shane Rogers
AVON -- For the past two weeks Avon and its surrounding communities have been cleaning up the damage caused by the storm that tore through the area on May 12.
According to the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Avon received 2 to 2.5 inches of rain over a 12-hour period on that day, most of which occurred during a three-hour time frame after sporadic rain throughout the day. Cities, such as North Ridgeville, were hit the hardest receiving 4.5 to 6 inches of rainfall, effectively causing backups in the drainage systems and leading to extensive property damage to several communities in the area.
Hit the hardest was the Southeast quadrant of Avon where residents experienced standing water for up to 12 hours. Basements were flooded, standalone buildings were damaged and, in some cases, livestock was lost, due to the heavy rainfall and the inability of existing infrastructure to drain the excess storm water ...
Flooding dampening plans for development
Filed by shanerogers June 4th, 2014 in News.
By Shane Rogers
AVON -- Since May 12  when Avon and surrounding communities experienced massive flooding due to a downpour, city officials, private business owners and residents have been trying to figure out how to prevent it from happening again.
One particular area of contention is the development of Creekside Place, which is supposed to be going in behind Kensington Drive in the southeast quadrant of the city. However, after the storm on May 12, much of that area was left with standing water that, according to residents, reached to almost 4 feet.
While residents of the area were worried about future flooding of their properties, according to a report by the city engineer, had Creekside Place already been developed, the area would not have been accessible by safety forces ...
Before the development was approved, flood studies were done in the area based on existing FEMA floodplain info. According to the studies, the flooding that occurred after the May 12 storm never should have happened.
"From our standpoint, how does a 1 percent (100-year) rain in Avon cause this amount of damage when it shows on our maps and flood plans that this isn't what is supposed to happen?" Mayor Bryan Jensen asked. "Looking at it, you would assume those figures were not correct." ...
According to city engineer Rob Knopf, had the development already been built the area would have still flooded ...
Contact Shane Rogers at email@example.com
[2014: The Summer Polar Nortex]
'Polar Vortex' in July: Record Cold Weather on the Way to U.S.
By Andrew Freedman, 7-10-14
The middle of July is typically one of the hottest weeks of the year in the Midwest and Central United States.
Well, not this year. Instead, the region that was locked in the deep freeze for the entire winter and much of the spring -- Lake Superior's ice cover lasted until June, setting a new record -- is about to shiver again. OK, maybe not shiver. But it's going to be 20 to 30 degrees cooler than average for this time of year ...
Is this the polar vortex all over again, but in the summer?
The strange weather pattern has its roots near Hudson Bay, Canada, where so much of last winter's cold originated. The cold air will be spinning around underneath an area of low pressure at upper levels of the atmosphere, which the jet stream, which is the river of air at about 30,000 feet, is going to steer south, into the U.S., over the weekend.
The dip in the jet stream, known as a "trough," is connected via a long chain of events to once-Super Typhoon Neoguri, which struck Japan on Wednesday [7-9-14] as a weakened tropical storm, according to Jeff Masters of Weather Underground:
"The large and powerful nature of this storm has set in motion a chain-reaction set of events that will dramatically alter the path of the jet stream and affect weather patterns across the entire Northern Hemisphere next week. Neoguri will cause an acceleration of the North Pacific jet stream, causing a large amount of warm, moist tropical air to push over the North Pacific.
This will amplify a trough low pressure over Alaska, causing a ripple effect in the jet stream over western North America, where a strong ridge of high pressure will develop, and over the Midwestern U.S., where a strong trough of low pressure will form.
This jet stream pattern is similar to the nasty "Polar Vortex" pattern that set up during the winter of 2014 over North America, and will cause an unusually cool third week of July over the portions of the Midwest and Ohio Valley, with temperatures 10 - 20 °F below average." ...
This cannot strictly be viewed as an actual polar vortex event, but there are some similarities to the weather pattern in place during the winter of 2013-14 ...
Polar vortexes exist in both hemispheres. They are not a new phenomenon, having been in weather textbooks for decades. In January , the vortex weakened and wobbled a little bit to the south of its typical position. This and a few other factors helped bring some of the extremely cold air southward. That's when the term "polar vortex" took on a life of its own via social media, and now is used colloquially by many people to refer to unusual cold ...
Here's how the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center in Maryland describes the upcoming event: ...
"A highly anomalous amplification of the flow across north america is indicated by the global numerical models at the medium range. a deep upper low -- not the polar vortex as its origins are from the north-east pacific -- will swing through the great lakes early next week with an impressive cold shot of air into the central and then southern plains and the midwest."
According to the National Weather Service forecast office in Chicago, the coldest that temperatures have been since 1979 at the 850 millibar pressure level, which is at about 5,000 feet above the surface, have been around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Computer model forecasts for next week show such temperatures bottoming out at 41 degrees Fahrenheit, indicating the unusual nature of this cold snap. Forecasters look at 850 millibar temperatures to get an idea of what surface temperatures may be ...
The cool air mass will affect much of the Midwest, Central and Plains states as well as the Ohio Valley before spilling into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. In many areas, including Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York, the cool weather will be a welcome respite from the hot, humid and stormy conditions that have been the theme this week. In fact, the cold front may make it all the way to the Gulf Coast, which is extremely unusual for this time of year.
It's worth noting, though, that while the U.S. experiences unusual cold, much of the world will be remarkably warm for this time of year. May was the world's hottest such month on record, and it's likely that June and July will rank in the top five as well ...
[Aftershocks from the May 12, 2014 flood -- a storm water fee and diversion of water to the Hurst Tole ditch]
Filed on August 9, 2014 by Jon Wysochanski
AVON -- City officials might implement a storm water utility fee that will be tacked on to water bills.
The City Council's Service Committee, along with the mayor and members of the engineering and planning departments, met earlier in the week to discuss the fee and the need to generate money for storm sewer projects.
The city pays for storm water-related projects with funds from the roads, maintenance and repairs budget in the general fund. The proposal is to add an extra $3 or $4 onto the bills.
During a telephone interview after the meeting, Mayor Bryan Jensen said cities like Sheffield Lake have separate storm water utility funds for storm sewer projects.
According to Sheffield Lake Finance Director Tamara Smith, homeowners pay $4.85 a month on their water bills for the storm water utility and the fee generates about $290,000 annually.
Jensen said Avon wants to take a similar approach and by adding $3 or $4 to the bills, it would generate an additional $1 million annually.
"We are trying to come up with a specific fund to address our storm water issue," Jensen said. "We've been thinking since the beginning of the year about how to do this properly and fairly."
During the recent Service Committee meeting, city Engineer Rob Knopf said that storm water utility rates will be different for regular residential, cluster residential and businesses. Storm water utility rates are based on calculations, which determine equivalent residential units.
Knopf said ERUs are based upon the total impervious area -- hard surfaces rainwater cannot permeate -- a resident or business has on their property.
The city has to figure out what percentage of each parcel is impervious in order to come up with a rate that is fair to all, Knopf said.
"The impervious areas would be calculated by having a company digitize all of the impervious areas for each parcel," Knopf said in an email message after the meeting.
Knopf said the simplest method involves having all regular residential units pay one rate and cluster units pay another. Commercial and industrial properties, which will generally pay more, could be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.
"The difficulty isn't in the calculation, but the maintenance of the storm water utility," Knopf said. "By calculating individual ERUs for each home, the city would then have to recalculate someone's billings every time they add a shed or extend their patio. It would be strenuous to bill this way."
According to preliminary information based on a sampling of impervious areas on property in Avon provided by the city during the Service Committee meeting, the following estimated average monthly rates would apply if that charging method was adopted:
Regular residential -- $3.45
Cluster residential -- $4.65
Commercial -- $164.06
Industrial -- $187.50
Government -- $32.04
Agricultural -- $64.62
Jensen said figuring out who will pay what is the most daunting task. Individual residents can't be overburdened, but the fees for businesses can't be so much as to drive business away, Jensen said.
At the same time, the city must find a feasible way to fund storm water management projects for areas that have experienced flooding in recent years, he said.
The city may offer property owners incentives to decrease their monthly storm water utility fee if they utilize rain barrels, build retention areas or, in the case of a business, implement the latest storm water absorption and runoff technologies into their buildings' designs.
"From this point forward, when new businesses or industries come in we want to also encourage them to do more," Jensen said ...
Avon will now determine what tasks to perform internally for the creation of the potential storm water utility fund and what tasks they will sub out to an engineering firm. Jensen said the city hopes to have a plan in place by early next year.
"We're not looking to rush anything because we want to do this the right way," Jensen said.
Contact Jon Wysochanski at firstname.lastname@example.org
Avon Council considers land tract for flood control
Filed on August 5, 2014 by Jon Wysochanski
AVON -- City Council is considering rescinding an ordinance that approved plans for a subdivision. Instead, Council might buy the land for stormwater management purposes.
Garland Griffin Homes Inc. initially came to the Avon Planning Commission in April 2013 with plans to build a two phase, 49-home subdivision on 56.8 acres of vacant land along Jaycox and Riegelsberger roads. City Council approved the plans in March.
But the approval didn't come without complaints from homeowners in nearby Kensington Park Estates, who said the proposed land is known to flood. However, Avon city officials said previously the proposed subdivision would not impact the surrounding floodplain.
But then Mother Nature brought a storm, and with it flooding of the land for the proposed subdivision and nearby Kensington Park Estates.
At Monday night's City Council work session, Mayor Bryan Jensen said flooding issues, coupled with residents' concerns, caused the city to change directions. The city now will seek to buy the land for development of a park with stormwater management capabilities -- pending a Council decision to rescind the subdivision ordinance.
"Ever since the flooding occurred on May 12 , the administration, with Council's approval, has tried to work with the owner of the property to acquire that piece of land for a passive park," Jensen said.
Pat Collins, president of the Kensington Park Estates Homeowner's Association, said residents in his neighborhood didn't feel another development, or any stormwater retention plans engineers previously presented, would have alleviated flooding.
"Any time there was a heavy storm, our streets got flooded," Collins said. "You can go ahead and build a castle in a swamp, but it's still a swamp, and that castle won't have any value. We hope the city can find a way to use that land to alleviate the amount of water that flows into Kensington."
Avon law director John Gasior said the city received a letter from the attorney representing Garland Griffin Homes, although he declined to offer specifics as to what the letter said before discussing it with City Council in an executive session.
"They are acknowledging that we want to appropriate the land," Gasior said.
According to Gasior, the city will negotiate with Garland Griffin Homes to purchase the land. If City Council approves purchasing the land, it will be appraised. Both parties then would negotiate a price based on the appraisal.
According to information on the Lorain County Auditor's website, Garland Griffin Homes purchased the 56.8 acre parcel on Riegelsberger Road in November for $1.5 million. The auditor's website said the total market value of the land is $194,390.
Richard Bancroft, a consultant and project manager for Garland Griffin Homes, said the company would "comment when the appropriate time presents itself."
Contact Jon Wysochanski at email@example.com.
[Diversion of water to the Hurst Tole ditch]
Filed on July 31, 2014 by Jon Wysochanski
AVON -- A stretch of Nagel Road will get an overhaul that includes repaving, widening and sewer installations.
According to city Engineer Rob Knopf, Nagel Road will be widened and repaved from Detroit Road south to Schwartz Road ...
In addition to the paving and widening, work crews will install a 36-inch storm sewer from Hawkesbury Court north to the Hurst Tole ditch ...
"We apologize for the inconvenience, but the road is failing [How? Why?] and this needs to be done," [Knopf] said.
According to Avon Finance Director Bill Logan, the project bid of $833,451 was approved by City Council on June 23  and awarded to Newbury-based Burton Scot Contractors and includes the costs associated with repaving, widening and storm sewer installations.
Logan said project money comes from the city's general fund and is part of the city's annual road improvement program.
Contact Jon Wysochanski at firstname.lastname@example.org
September 2, 2014
[Is global warming disrupting the polar vortex?]
Study links polar vortex chills to melting sea ice
By Seth Borenstein
Remember the polar vortex, the huge mass of Arctic air that can plunge much of the U.S. into the deep freeze? You might have to get used to it. we should see more of these in the future because a study partially links these polar vortex related cold outbreaks to loss of sea ice off Russia as the world gets warmer. But we have to note that [early 2014's] polar vortex chill was slightly different and not connected to sea ice loss, researchers say.
A new study says that as the world gets warmer, parts of North America, Europe and Asia could see more frequent and stronger visits of cold air as ... Researchers say that's because of shrinking ice in the seas off Russia. Less iced would let more energy go from the ocean into the air, and that would weaken the atmospheric forces that usually keep cold air trapped in the Arctic.
But at times it escapes and wanders south, bringing with it a bit of Arctic super chill. That can happen for several reasons, and the new study suggests that one of them occurs when ice in northern seas shrinks, leaving more water uncovered.
Normally, sea ice keeps heat energy from escaping the ocean and entering the atmosphere. When there's less ice, more energy gets into the atmosphere and weakens the jet stream, the high-altitude river of air that usually keeps Arctic air from wandering south, said study co-author Jin-Ho Yoon of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. So the cold air escapes instead.
That happened relatively infrequently in the 1990s, but since 2000 it has happened nearly every year, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. A team of scientists from South Korea and United States found that many such cold outbreaks happened a few months after unusually low sea ice levels in the Barents and Kara seas, off Russia.
The study observed historical data and then conducted computer simulations. Both approaches showed the same strong link between shrinking sea ice and cold outbreaks, according to lead author Baek-Min Kim, a research scientist at the Korea Polar Research Institute. A large portion of sea ice melting is driven by man-made climate change from the burning of fossil fuels, Kim wrote in an email.
Sea ice in the Arctic usually hits its low mark in September and that's the crucial time point in terms of this study, said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. Levels reached a record low in 2012 and are slightly up this year, but only temporarily, with minimum ice extent still about 40 percent below 1970s levels, he said.
Yoon said that although his study focused on shrinking sea ice, something else was evidently responsible for [early 2014's] chilly visit from the polar vortex ...
The study was praised by several other scientists who said it does more than show that sea ice melt affects worldwide weather, but demonstrates how it happens, with a specific mechanism.
Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech climate scientist in Lubbock, said the study "provides important insight into the cascading nature of the effects human activities are having on the planet."
[Is this mechansim part of the beginning of the next ice age? See lake effect blizzards in July]
A commentator wrote:
Addition of heat does cause cooling ... Ice melts, lowering water temperature; winds efficiently transfer heat to the poles and "cold" away from it ...
A Polar Vortex is the opposite of an efficient transport system - it is a locked in cold pool of air insulated from warmth further south by it's shear coldness. It has a very strong Polar-jet and as such it takes a great deal to disrupt it and let that cold air "transport" south and warm air conversely "transport" north to allow mixing in the atmosphere ...
When typhoons recurve out to sea off the coast of Japan, they tend to lead to big troughs (cold air) over the eastern USA 6-10 days later. In many cases we see storms.
Similar to the typhoon rule we also have to now focus on the Bering Sea. ... A lot of reasearch has shons that big storms in the Bering Sea can result in deep troughs (cold air) developing over the east coast 2.5-3 weeks later ...
We have the warming of the stratosphere which is causing a cold weather pattern to lock in. This cold weather pattern will develop along side an active sub-tropical jet stream. The combination of the sub tropical jet stream and the polar jet stream can cause big storms ...
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Super Typhoon Vongfong became the strongest storm on Earth for 2014 yesterday and is the strongest storm since that terrible Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Phillipines last November  ...
[Here is how] Vongfong might affect you ... Sometimes, when a huge typhoon heads north, past Japan, it rejiggers the jet stream [at the polar vortex] and makes it plunge southward into the central or eastern United States ...
[Menards, Flooding Concerns in Avon]
Filed on December 5, 2014 by Jon Wysochanski
AVON -- The Planning Commission continues to consider whether to recommend that City Council rescind an ordinance that would allow construction of a housing development in a flood-prone area.
City officials have been mulling since August  whether to allow Garland Griffin Homes of Cleveland to build a two-phase, 49-home subdivision on 56.8 acres along Jaycox and Riegelsberger roads.
At a Wednesday night meeting, 50 to 75 residents continued to voice concern that a housing development would exacerbate flooding in the area, Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen said.
Avon hired law firm O'Toole, McLaughlin, Dooley & Pecora of Sheffield to handle its dealings with Garland Griffin Homes. Jensen said the city will take the land through eminent domain for creation of a passive park with flood-control capabilities if an agreement can't be reached with developer Matt Garland.
Garland Griffin Homes first came to the Planning Commission in April 2013 with plans City Council approved in March. But after a storm [on May 12, 2014] which flooded the vacant land and nearby Kensington Park Estates, the city declared a building moratorium and began considering whether to rescind its blessing of the Garland Griffin Homes development.
When developers submit plans to cities, they also provide data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency detailing how land will be impacted in the event of 100-year and 500-year storms.
A lawyer for Garland Griffin Homes said in September  the developer stands by the FEMA engineering studies used, which showed that 100- and 500-year storms would not flood adjacent properties.
Since that time, the city's lawyers hired Cleveland-based Chagrin Valley Engineering, which surveyed the land in question and said FEMA mapping does not accurately depict the extent of flooding predicted for 100-year flood events. The [Chagrin Valley] study also said the May flood was more along the lines of a five-year storm.
Jensen said residents expressed concern about the May flood, and also provided photographic evidence of floods that have occurred multiple times over the years. He said the city's safety services had difficulty accessing Kensington Park Estates during the most recent flood, and he thinks police and fire officials also wouldn't be able to reach residents in the proposed development ...
The Planning Commission will give Garland Griffin Homes time to counter the engineering study presented at Wednesday night's meeting. Developer Matt Garland, reached by phone Thursday afternoon, declined to comment, but said his position will be detailed at a meeting Dec. 17.
According to information on the Lorain County Auditor's website, Garland Griffin Homes purchased the 56.8-acre parcel on Riegelsberger Road in November 2013 for $1.5 million. The Auditor's website said the total market value of the land is $194,390.
Contact Jon Wysochanski at email@example.com.
Avon city engineer resigns
Filed on January 7, 2015 by Jon Wysochanski
AVON -- City engineer Rob Knopf has resigned. The city will hire a private engineering firm in his place.
City Council voted unanimously Monday after an executive session to hire Cleveland-based Chagrin Valley Engineering in Knopf's place. The engineering firm will be paid up to $48,850 annually by the city and charge anywhere from $48 to $130 an hour for project services.
Mayor Bryan Jensen said the relationship falls under a professional services contract. The city did not have to seek bids from other firms for the services.
Jensen said Knopf, who was the sole employee in the Engineering Department, did a good job but voluntarily resigned because the growing city has a need for more extensive engineering services.
Jensen said it would have cost the city $500,000 to $750,000 to expand the Engineering Department. City Council and his administration decided to outsource instead.
"We are in the midst of growth and it wasn't possible to try to find those people as quickly as we needed to," Jensen said.
Avon has utilized Chagrin Valley Engineering for services in the past. Most recently the firm carried out a flood study on property owned by developer Matt Garland that the city has said may be taken through eminent domain because the land flooded in May [5-12-14] ...
For seven months, the city has taken steps to stop Garland from building the proposed Creekside subdivision on 56.8 acres the developer purchased at Riegelsberger and Schwartz roads in 2013 for $1.5 million.
According to Ryan Cummins, a civil engineer who will be the lead engineer in Avon's Engineering Department on behalf of Chagrin Valley Engineering, the firm has a similar relationship with 15 communities outside of Lorain County, including Olmsted Falls and Brunswick.
"There are a lot of efficiencies gained through bringing staff and expertise to a situation that is needed instead of having that bound through city payroll at all times," Cummins said.
Gasior said if Cummins encounters something that is outside of his or his firm's expertise, he would have to seek bids from other firms on projects ...
By Kaylee Remington, The Morning Journal
Avon's city engineer, Robert Knopf, has resigned from his post and city council has voted to hire an engineering firm to handle projects.
Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen said that council voted to hire Chagrin Valley Engineering based out of Cleveland. The firm will be paid $48,600 annually and will then be paid on a per project basis, he added. Jensen hopes that the change will still balance the cost. Knopf made around $86,000 a year, he said ...
The city and Chagrin Valley are under a professional services contract, meaning that the city didn't need to go out for bids ... Ryan Cummins, who is the consulting city engineer for the city of Brunswick, will be specifically assigned to Avon, Jensen said.
"They (Chagrin Valley) have a good resume, a big resume," said Jensen, who added that the Cleveland company works with 15 other municipalities.
Jensen said the city had the other option of building an engineering department, but when he looked at it, the city would have to add four more people which it doesn't have the space.
He added that it would cost $250,000 to $500,000 to maintain that department. And, things are rapidly developing in Avon. "There's just so many things that keep coming up," Jensen said.
Cummins will be able to help with the influx of economic development in the city as Brunswick did five or six years ago, he said ...
Resolutions halted in anticipation of Avon planning commission meeting
By Kaylee Remington, The Morning Journal
Two resolutions during Avon City Council's work session will have to be put on hold because of action ... [at] Planning Commission Jan. 21 .
Council was to discuss appropriating property [eminent domain] from Garland-Griffin Homes for public park land and as a location to implement systems to alleviate the flooding issue, according to the resolution. Law Director John Gasior ... suggested that council refer the matter to the Planning Commission ...
Council President Craig Witherspoon also read a resolution to appropriate a simple fee interest in certain property and to appropriate funds to create public parks, to alleviate flooding and to "authorize a legal association to file a petition for appropriation with the court of common pleas." "This ordinance follows up with the resolution necessity that we just discussed," Gasior said ...
The 49-home subdivision has been a topic of scrutiny from residents who fear the development will create more flooding elsewhere in the city because of a floodplain that will need to be filled.
In other news council discussed an ordinance to consent to the Ohio Department of Transportation in doing work in the city limits. Gasior said it's a standard piece of legislation.
The project is surface repair on I-90 between Abbe Road and the Cuyahoga County line. ODOT will start the project in the summer, according to Gasior.
Avon has had to consent to other projects such as the SR 611 bridge and a few other overpasses, Gasior said.
Ryan Cummins, who is the consulting city engineer for the city of Brunswick, attended his first work session in the city. Council voted to hire Chagrin Valley Engineer based out of Cleveland ...
Avon [Planning Commission] looks at different plans for land, approves Menards store
By Kaylee Remington, The Morning Journal
During Avon's planning commission Jan. 21, [2015 meeting,] Law Director John Gasior told the audience that it was decided by the city that it would be better for it to use that land for public parks and storm water systems to alleviate flooding issues in that area.
Council, as well as the planning commission, had been discussing this issue since May 12  when heavy rain came through and caused flooding.
"Since that time we made it clear that it was the intention of the city to move forward with the appropriation of this land," Gasior said.
The resolution for public parks and flooding alleviation is the first step in the process of appropriating that property, Gasior said, which is at the corners of Jaycox, Schwartz and Riegelsberger roads in Avon.
The property will be acquired through an appropriation proceeding, Gasior said.
A 2014 report by the Avon Parks and Recreation Department showed that residents wanted additional playgrounds, as well as walking and biking trails ...
The Creekside Subdivision proposal, which was brought forward by Garland-Griffin Homes, was under scrutiny from residents who thought development of homes would create more flooding after the May 12  flood.
In other news, Planning Commission also approved ... [a] special-use permit for the proposed Menards Store which will include a propane station and emergency generator. It also approved the final development plan which would also include an overhang and a warehouse.
Tom O'Neil, who represented Menards at the meeting, said that the home improvement center is trying to rectify the far distance to get from the nearest Menards in Sandusky. The store is similar to Home Depot and Lowes, but larger than their stores, he said ... There likely will be around 125 employees total, he added.
By Michael Sangiacomo
AVON, Ohio -- The Avon Planning Commission Wednesday [1-21-15] night voted unanimously to recommend that city council exercise eminent domain and seize the flood-prone 57-acre site of Creekside Place and turn it into a city park and an area to store floodwater.
Council is expected to act on the recommendation at its meeting Monday [1-26-15]. It will begin the process of seizing the property owned by prominent local developer Matt Garland, who had planned to build 49 houses in the area of Jaycox and Schwartz roads, an area prone to flooding.
Council members initially approved the housing development plans last February, but had second thoughts after the May 12  flood put the area under four feet of water.
Council sent the matter back to the planning commission for further review, which resulted in a new engineering study by a new company, Chagrin Valley Engineering, that differed greatly from an earlier study performed by Hydrosphere Engineering in Cleveland.
Results from the Chagrin Valley firm's review determined the area is very flood-prone, contradicting the first study, that saw no flooding issues ...
Wednesday night city Law Director John Gasior said there is a need in the city for more parks and also for areas to build retention basins to hold back stormwater and prevent flooding. He said the area where Creekside Place was to be built fills both needs.
Garland, his engineers, his lawyers and court stenographer, were conspicuously absent from the meeting. At previous sessions, which were very contentious, Garland threatened to sue the city if they proceeded with the plan.
Wednesday night Mayor Bryan Jensen said the photos residents of that area brought in showing up to four feet of water on their property during the May 12 flood were powerful inducements to strengthen the city's resolve to seize the property ...
At previous council and planning commission meetings, local residents were quick to point out that the area floods frequently.
"I've lived there since 2003 and it flooded that year," said Kurt Raicevich of nearby Livingston Road at a December council meeting. "It flooded again in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and I have to ask, why would anyone want to build there?"
In an earlier meeting a lawyer for Garland said they were quite willing to end the matter immediately if the city would buy the 57-acre property at fair market value. But he said council votes to rescind its previous approval of the project, it would diminish the value of the land, making it cheaper for the city to buy. He said if that happens, they would sue.
It is unclear whether council will rescind the earlier approval Monday [1-26-15], or just enact the Planning Commission's recommendation to seize the property.
Avon to seek land by eminent domain for park
Filed on January 27, 2015 by Jon Wysochanski
AVON -- City Council approved a resolution Monday [1-26-15] declaring the city's intent to take land from a private developer through eminent domain for use as a public park.
After meeting in executive session to discuss imminent litigation and the purchase and sale of property, City Council members voted in favor of taking the land.
Despite objections from some residents that the land would flood, the Planning Commission in April 2013 approved developer Matt Garland's plans to build a 49-home subdivision on 56.8 acres along Riegelsberger and Schwartz roads that Garland purchased in 2013 for $1.5 million.
City Council then approved an ordinance for construction. But storms last May [5-12-14] flooded the land, as well as homes in nearby Kensington Park Estates, causing City Council to declare a construction moratorium and consider rescinding the ordinance that had given Garland a green light to build.
Sheldon Berns, one of Garland's attorneys, previously said the city has no right to rescind the approved ordinance, and to do so would significantly diminish the land's value. Garland, who attended Monday's meeting, said he is happy the city is deciding to appropriate the land for a park ...
Dennis O'Toole, an attorney representing the city, said Monday's resolution is the first step in the eminent domain process.
O'Toole said Ohio law requires an official appraisal and good-faith offer be presented to Garland. From there, Garland will have 30 days to respond before anything is filed in court.
Once an offer is made, Garland could ask for a meeting with the city, request mediation or explain why the property is worth more than is being offered, O'Toole said ...
Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen said previously that the land was appraised at $2 million.
Contact Jon Wysochanski at firstname.lastname@example.org