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Kirk Mellish Blog

    As promised our weather changes continue with the up and down back and forth pattern well established with the wavy jet stream pattern.  As I’ve mentioned in many past blog posts here the frequency of Gulf of Mexico lows this fall and start of winter is eye catching, indicating an active split-flow Southern Jet stream pattern. It’s the type of pattern that often provides ice and snow later in the winter. Yet another “wedge” or CAD event (cold air dam) is taking shape today and tomorrow, that’s when High pressure to our Northeast feeds cold dry air down the lee of the Appalachians and it gets wedged or damed up against the mountains as warm moist air aloft overrides the top of the shallow cold air creating clouds and precipitation as low pressure and a front advance Northeast out of the Gulf.  You can see the process in the maps below.  MOST of us will get back home dry today but there is a small chance of a shower at the end of the afternoon with rising rain chances this evening becoming likely overnight into tomorrow, then gradual improvement over the weekend with Sunday the best of the two days. Rainfall totals from the system expected to average a half to one inch.  It stays chilly with a high today only in the lower 50s and highs tomorrow only in the low to mid 40s but we moderate to near 60 Sunday.  MID-AFTERNOON THURSDAY: MIDNIGHT THURSDAY NIGHT-FRIDAY AM: END OF DAY FRIDAY: 7AM SATURDAY: ESTIMATED RAINFALL AMOUNTS EARLY THIS EVENING: ESTIMATED RAIN AMOUNTS OVERNIGHT: ESTIMATED RAINFALL AMOUNTS FRIDAY: ESTIMATED RAIN AMOUNTS SATURDAY MORNING: 
  • We’re not all going to die from the next snow/ice storm, whenever that might be. And it won’t be in the foreseeable future. Not the scientifically foreseeable future.  I try hard to avoid speculation and fear-mongering. I am not into broadcast (or digital/print) hype or rumors. I realize not everyone studied advanced mathematics in school, or statistical analysis, or physics or thermodynamics.  However, that is not necessary nor is college nor is a Mensa level IQ to use logic, reason, and commonsense. So if we sometimes get snow or no snow wrong 8 hours ahead why would you ask me or anyone about a snow/no snow forecast 10 days away? Why give it the time of day? Makes no sense.  This is the information age (allegedly) and yet some people don’t seem to know the difference between professional and unprofessional actions, between experts and expertise and trolls and rumor spreaders trying to get people worked up. I don’t know what happened to our education system or our culture/society but we’ve been dumbed down.  Some people do it on purpose to hype ratings, others do it out of a lack of skill, others are hobbyists who may or may not be well-intentioned. But all of them should stop because the downside far outweighs the upside. You should know one or more reliable sources of weather forecasts and rely on them and only them and ignore the rest. Especially a phone APP or something on Twitter or Facebook or any other social media IF it is NOT from a verifiable reliable source you know and trust. Don’t like it, heart it, quote it, or retweet it or share it.  DON’T do it. STOP it. “Don’t pay it no heed” as they say.  No forecast source including myself is always wrong or always right. We’re trying to predict THE FUTURE. That’s a job not for the faint of heart.  My long-term followers (and radio listeners) already know this because I’ve explained it on-air and in blogs a thousand times. But I know we pick up new followers and listeners all the time and some may lack this knowledge. But if you keep reading my blogs over time you’ll learn a lot and become a more sophisticated consumer of weather info even if some of it is over your head or confusing. I read things that are over my head routinely. But over time it becomes less so because bit by bit my understanding grows. Be a life learner. It works and it helps. Too many people stopped reading (serious type, like books) the last time a teacher forced them to read and they’re happy with that. Sadly. Bless their hearts.  As a friend of mine says, “life is hard, it’s even harder when you’re stupid”. I don’t suffer fools gladly. I’ve been in this thing for four decades. The truth is sometimes we CAN have confidence in a forecast 10 or more days from now and get it right. But most of the time the uncertainty is too high for any confidence and certainly too high for specifics. Sometimes we get the today forecast wrong let alone ten days from now, but most of the time we get today and the next 3-7 right.  Read this blog and WHEN and ONLY when I think a distant weather event is worth talking about because the confidence level is up will I write about it. I do not try to be the first to scare you or give you something to be excited about. I first try to get it right.  Dirty little secret: I’ve shared this before but in case you are a new listener to my weather reports on 95.5 WSB Radio or a new follower of my blog or on Twitter... It is COMMON for a computer model to show a big snow or ice storm on one run and then on the next run (just 6 hours later) it’s just rain! Then 12 hours later it goes back to snow/ice, then back to rain or maybe dry. There are some 8 dozen different computer models, with that many, I can find something extreme on at least one of them almost every day or every week. One that shows snow/ice 7-15 days from now, or in the Spring a swarm of killer tornadoes 7-15 days from now! That’s the nature of Lorenz Chaos Theory in a non-linear system (aka The Butterfly Effect). PROBABILITY CURVE AND DISTRIBUTION: The above resulting in this: THE ABOVE DOES NOT APPLY TO THIS WEEKEND BUT APPLIES TO ANY FORECAST 10-DAYS PLUS.  So, out of context, such long-range specific forecasts are meaningless nonsense. Nailing such a thing from just one model would be pure luck with a false alarm ratio in the 95th percentile. Meaning for every one you get right you get 95 or more wrong.  I have the training to understand the context of the numerical prediction models. This is an art and an imperfect science, but only the scientific approach works and requires sophisticated training and experience just like the medical field or engineering etc.  Point and click forecasting doesn’t cut it.  There are deterministic models and ensemble models. Most of the public doesn’t understand the difference or may not understand how they work. So it would be illogical for them to post them or comment on them.  First we look for the jet stream pattern to become favorable. After and ONLY after that pattern becomes established can we start to look for specific storms etc. A before B, as of now we have (A) projected, but A does not exist right now (yet) and maybe never will. There’s a reason I give a 5-day forecast. Beyond that the skill of computer models and humans goes down too much, most of the time at least. There are exceptions.  My life as a weather forecaster, especially in this day and age: Models are VIRTUAL REALITY, not actual reality. Sometimes I look at a computer model and agree, other times I see a model screen and I do this... Bottom line is something could happen but lets use the scientific method and take it one step at a time and not get ahead of ourselves, don’t get over our skis.  For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • I’ve shown in previous blog posts including the winter outlooks that there is not strong persistence from November to December or for the winter as a whole. In other words, what November is like does not give you a strong clue as to what December or the rest of winter will be.  This is what makes weather prediction so hard, mother nature has an infinite variety of cards to play and over the long haul it usually ends up close to 50-50. Meanwhile the sunspot activity is at its lowest level since around 2009.  NOVEMBER TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION DEPARTURE FROM NORMALS: U.S. SNOWFALL SO FAR THIS “Fall-WINTER”: Using data from the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab for all of North America last month’s snow cover extent was the 3rd most since 1966 and the 5th greatest November snow cover for the entire Northern Hemisphere! U.S. snow cover starts near a December record. Of the TOP 10 SNOWIEST North American Novembers, on a national basis, 5 of those winters were colder than normal and 5 were milder than normal as a national average as shown by WeatherDesk Research, it was also five and five for Georgia: The composite mean shows a cold signal North of I-40 and a mild signal in the South and West. THE 5 WARM WINTERS THAT FOLLOWED SNOWY NORTH AMERICAN NOVEMBERS: THE FIVE THAT WERE COLD FOLLOWING A SNOWY NORTH AMERICAN NOVEMBER: Looking ahead the next few weeks it looks like warm air will come and go come and go with sharp cold snaps in between and with rainfall the next 10-days near average to below-average, then the following 5 days get a little wetter as the jet stream keeps undergoing big swings: See the roller coaster thermometer pattern:  Whenever the jet stream becomes strongly wavy like that shown in the 500mb maps above (highly amplified) the potential for extremes becomes heightened so we will have to keep our eyes open for potential wild swings and potential storms as models do not usually perform well when jet stream anomalies grow.  The weather looks like it will get more interesting as the month of December goes on as we watch another Stratosphere Polar Vortex warming disruption.  For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • Locally the travel weather today will improve this afternoon with most of Georgia and adjacent states dry before the afternoon is done. The transportation analytics company INRIX projects travel times in Atlanta today to be 3.5 times worse than normal peaking 5pm-7:30pm with an early start to the PM rush starting in the lunch hour according to the WSB Radio traffic team. GDOT GRAPH METRO STREETS: On a NATIONAL basis TODAY travel will be negatively impacted West of the Rockies, in the Desert Southwest, and from the Midwest to New England with rain snow and wind. FLIGHT LEVEL TURBULENCE mid-day today greatest in yellow highlighted areas: Tomorrow travel problems mainly West of the Mississippi River and in New England. On the big return travel day Sunday travel troubles expected in Northern California, from the Northern Plains east to New England and from Pennsylvania South to Northern Florida. That will include some rain in Georgia and adjacent states mainly the first part of the day. TARGET AIRPORT WORST DELAYS TODAY: Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, and DC. TARGET AIRPORT WORST DELAYS SUNDAY: Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philly, New York, Atlanta and New Orleans. Out West Seattle, San Fransisco and LAX. CURRENT AIRPORT DELAY STATUS: TO UPDATE THIS MAP CLICK HERE.  SUNDAY MORNING: SUNDAY AFTERNOON: Check back for updates and for more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB. Happy Thanksgiving and stay safe.  The biggest traffic team in Atlanta with triple team coverage is ONLY on 95.5 WSB Radio including the only traffic reports supported by an airplane and a helicopter.
  • It won’t happen this year but it’s interesting to note that Atlanta had a TRACE OF SNOW on Thanksgiving Day in both 1936 and 1938. Changeable weather the next 5-10 days across the entire nation with an active dual split jet stream pattern as seen in GOES-WEST image above. As of now local weather for Atlanta looks dry for Thanksgiving Day and for shopping Friday but with wet travel challenges before and after as seen in the maps below. The Western and Northern U.S. through the Midwest will brace for wind rain and snow for the busiest travel day of the year and for the first time in almost 50 years strong gusty winds may ground the balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City.  Most airports are looking good on this Monday. Airports most impacted by bad weather Tuesday: San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and Memphis with snow from the Rockies to the upper Midwest. Airports most likely to be impacted by weather delays Wednesday are: LAX, New Orleans, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago and Boston along with wet highways in much of the South and East on Wednesday and snow in the Western Mountains and Great Lakes region.  MID-DAY MONDAY: MID-DAY TUESDAY: MID-DAY WEDNESDAY: THANKSGIVING DAY: MID-DAY FRIDAY: SATURDAY MORNING: SUNDAY MORNING: 7-DAY ACCUMULATED SNOWFALL: Strong winds mean blizzard conditions possible in Northern Plains and upper Midwest. HIGH TEMPERATURES MONDAY-SUNDAY: In Atlanta the normal high temperature this time of year is 60 and we will be above-normal all week into the start of the weekend. Showers for your travels on Wednesday but then mostly dry Thanksgiving into Saturday before rain returns Saturday evening and Sunday.  Then another cold snap for next week, cold enough for snow flurries in the mountains a week from today. Check back for updates.  For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • The Polar Vortex is not a NEW thing nor is it a term from “the media”, meteorologists have followed it for decades and it got a lot of attention 5 years ago and because some people had never heard of it they jumped to the conclusion that it was new or made up. It likely has existed as long as the earth has had an atmosphere. It was first mentioned in public writings in 1853! It exists at various levels of the atmosphere and is NOT a storm or a cold wave. However, it can influence both storms and air masses when it behaves in different ways related to “Sudden Stratospheric Warming” (SSW) events.  Not every SSW and Polar Vortex disruption results in a big storm or big cold wave in the U.S. but sometimes they do, other times it occurs in Europe or some other part of the world depending on the configuration of the polar vortex collapse (no two events are ever the same). Polar Vortex disruptions and major mid-winter SSW warming at 10mb does not guarantee a cold December or a cold winter as sometimes the coldest air is deflected elsewhere, as Dr. Judah Cohen graphics show no two are alike: Research by Karpechko .et .al show only about half of past SSW events actually propagated to the surface. So we can have a SSW event but unless the Polar Vortex rotates or splits in the right manner it won’t result in a cold blast to Europe or America.  Also a -AO/NAO SSW Polar Vortex disruption is not the only way it can get cold and stormy in the Eastern U.S. as I discussed in my earlier winter outlook blog post. Vortex disruptions and SSW events are related to the AO and NAO jet stream blocking patterns (Wxbell graphic). A vortex exists over BOTH poles of the earth North and South, we only focus on the one that impacts weather in the Northern Hemisphere where we live.  When it brings a cold wave it’s usually not the true vortex itself that comes to the U.S. but rather a reflection of it or a piece or “lobe” of it extending from the stratosphere into the troposphere impacting the jet stream and thus our weather. The SSW and vortex disruption start way up in the atmosphere close to outer space then “work their way down” to weather levels (nexusenergy graphic). Some years it stays in place all year long or all winter long, other times it shifts periodically onto one side of the hemisphere or another.  Deeper dive into the Polar Vortex here.  The stratosphere ranges from 6 to 31 miles high (33,000-164,000 feet) at mid-latitude.  I mention it now because the action of the PV is something long-range forecasters ATTEMPT to estimate when making a winter forecast but it’s predictability remains elusive.  Years with a lot of SSW PV disruptions tend to be colder winters and those with few tend to be less so. It is a little more predictable in the short-term rather than months in advance.  I bring it up because we are seeing signs of such an “event” in current data observations and in some computer model simulations.  Notice that over the area above the North Pole the pressure pattern splits as temperatures high up warm up. POLAR VORTEX CONFIGURATION NOW (33,000 Feet): GFS ENSEMBLE MODEL SIMULATION FORECAST DECEMBER: So clearly the model is projecting a significant weakening of the polar vortex and getting into SSW territory that could cause the type of split that could send colder than normal air South again middle or end of next month.  Keep in mind the effects on the weather are not instantaneous, it takes time for the lower atmosphere to respond to changes at the top (downward propagation) so there is a delay in any impacts of a couple weeks on average after a SSW displacement event occurs. I’ll continue to monitor to see if real-world observations show the stratospheric polar vortex weakening or not. As I’ve shown in previous blogs this October and November have been a lot like last year, which was followed by a WARM December and a mild winter. Commodity Weather Group Research has shown this is typical of most December cases with an El Nino like ocean state but a La Nina type atmospheric signature (as we have now). They found just 3 out of 10 historic examples that were cold while the mean of such Decembers is above-normal: As it is the probability that this December will be as warm as last December looks fairly low, and if the PV disruption being projected is real it COULD even end up cooler than average. As it is, I have UPDATED MY WINTER OUTLOOK ANALOGS and they are not as warm as the first set and also indicate the snow/ice odds are normal to above normal for the coming winter in North Georgia.  NEW ANALOG YEARS WINTER 2019-20: Reminder the above maps for winter is the average for the 3-month period NOT every day or every week. The recent trend of the greater winter feel and impacts to come later in the winter and extend into March is likely to repeat for the coming winter. For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB. [Summary]
  • While temperatures have as forecast warmed from the deep freeze and will do so further this week, there is no sign of any “Indian Summer” weather locking into place for the foreseeable future, getting back to average temperatures or a tad above, briefly, is the best we can hope for at this point. This week looks mostly dry.  With the Thanksgiving travel period coming up next week it is worth noting that the ensemble packages from the various numerical variants suggest an active split jet stream pattern that leans toward cooler than normal and potentially stormy in the long-range period East of the Rockies although it’s too soon for details.  The ECMWF ensemble suite is warmer and drier than the wetter and cooler GFS ensemble suite.  The Canadian (not shown) is closer to the GFS. Here is the probability of at least one inch of snow by the end of the month according to the GFS and ECMWF ensembles: CFSv2 DECEMBER: Something worth keeping an eye on going forward to December through March. Have you noticed how many of our wet weather systems were coastal huggers?  Since the drought started to ease off many of our rain makers have been low pressure systems traveling across the Gulf Coast states with a suppressed sub-tropical jet-stream (STJ) in a split-flow pattern with the polar jet up North. Those “Miller A” type storms WHEN they occur with deep cold air IN WINTER bring our best chances for snow or ice. Recent weather: Here are some schematics of a Miller A: No two storms are ever alike. WSI has an ENSO index and has related it to current Pacific sea-surface temperature patterns and those of the past (analogs): For what it’s worth here is a composite of those winters December-March: Things could get interesting the next 60 days and for the coming winter. Stay tuned. For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • Temperatures will moderate from the big chill this weekend, but temperatures will still be cooler than normal for this time of year. However, the return of sun will lift spirits and make it more comfortable for your weekend plans. Christmas shopping? A movie? A certain football game? Drinking heavily and sobbing on the couch? It will be dry this weekend and most of next week looks dry as well with a warming trend back toward normal for this time of year by next Thursday.  That having been said there does not look to be much warm weather the rest of this month or to start next month, on average it will be on the cool side of normal.  It’s way too early for a specific Thanksgiving forecast but early indicators point to a modest rain chance on or near Turkey day with temperatures in the mid 50s for highs with lows in the low to mid 40s. The sub-tropical Southern branch of the jet stream has been active so far this autumn, and if that were to continue this winter it would raise the odds of snow or ice. Something to keep an eye on going forward. For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • What’s a 30 degree temperature drop from one days high temperature to the same time the next day as shown above? (4pm Monday v 4pm Tuesday) Lyrics from the Gordon Lightfoot song the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald come to mind: “...when the gales of November come early...twas the witch of November come stealin...” MOST of the snow or sleet/freezing rain (very little) stays in the far North Georgia mountains.  If you see any sleet (ice pellets) or snow flurries North of Hartsfield this morning don’t panic it won’t last and it won’t matter. (Most of us wont see any). For Metro Atlanta the moisture moves out as the cold air moves in so not worried about any winter precip problems here as the rain ends. The wind and dry air moving in should dry off the pavement before temperatures drop below freezing in the Atlanta area with a hard freeze Wednesday morning as temperatures dip to the January-like 20s near record levels.  8AM MODEL RADAR SIMULATION: 10AM MODEL RADAR SIMULATION: NOON MODEL RADAR SIMULATION: MODEL FORECAST TEMPERATURES 10AM: NOON: 5PM TUESDAY: WEDNESDAY MORNING MODEL LOW TEMPERATURES: The air mass trajectories show the origin of the incoming air started out near the arctic: 75% of the country will have at least a freeze this week: LIVE updates on the changing weather conditions throughout Tuesday morning on 95.5 WSB Radio.  For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • The incoming cold snap would be noteworthy in the dead of winter, so this polar plunge is remarkable for this early in the season. It is hardly unprecedented though so nothing we can’t handle. It is a fairly quick hit and run, in and out. We probably will not break any records locally, but places not far away probably will and lots of records will probably fall in the Midwest, Great Plains and Northeast states. But records will be possible all the way to the Gulf Coast West of here. Since this is dead of winter type polar air WINTERIZE YOUR HOME AND CAR/TRUCK. Turn-off water to the outside of the house and shut down decorative fountains. Temperatures will fall hard and fast after the cold front passes through bringing a decent shot of rain to much of Georgia late tonight into tomorrow morning before the temperature drop. Some brief sleet or snow possible mainly in the Georgia mountains early Tuesday. I’ve been warning you about this pattern change in blogs and on Twitter Since November 4th: It’s not just the actual air temperatures that are impressive but also the geographic coverage of the arctic air mass with only the far West and South Florida spared.  We’re keeping an eye on the tropospheric patterns that can lead to more polar vortex splits and sudden stratospheric warming events in the months ahead that can lead to more cold air invasions after a warm-up. A couple snow periods will come with it for the Midwest, New England and maybe even parts of the Mid-Atlantic states with flurries possible in the Southern Appalachian Mountains (not Atlanta), an inch or more of snow in parts of Tennessee and snow flakes should be seen “in the air” in areas adjacent to TN as well and as far South as Northern Louisiana.  For some areas of the country it could end up being one of the coldest ever November air masses this early in the month. And America will not be alone as much of Asia and parts of Europe will share it.  In ATLANTA during peak winter our normal high temperatures are in the 50s so this will be cold for any time of year with highs and lows below-normal and our first hard freeze coming early in many locales as the first official lows of 28 or lower is on average December 5th, a couple weeks earlier for the North suburbs.  This may naturally have you wondering if this means a cold December? Does this mean a cold winter? Short answer no, at least not necessarily by any means.  Research has shown there is SOME persistence of weather patterns from Fall to Winter and from November to December, but certainly not all the time.  I mentioned an early cold wave is not unprecedented.  Five years ago a similar big Southbound dip in the jet stream brought a big November chill: But December of that year very warm most of the country: What about last year? Did you already forget last November was colder than average?! Top 10 cold in many states just to our West and North. But the December that followed? Warm again.  In the past similar ENSO conditions/sea-surface temperature patterns in the Pacific with similar October weather as we have this year (left panels below) have lead to above-normal temperatures for much of the nation in October with cold out West like this year (right panels below): See the Decembers that followed like conditions in the past: Even without an official El Nino an El Nino-like base state of the background atmosphere response has revealed a tendency in the modern era where even in winters that end up being cold that December is biased above-normal and we’ve seen this in 2014, 2015, 2018. The 15-year or so trend has been for mild canonical El Nino Decembers.  So a betting man would say the odds favor a mild spell to return late November and/or in December after the coming cold. This does not mean December HAS to be warm, as some of the past similar El Nino-like Decembers have featured below-normal temperatures and a couple were quite cold in much of the nation like 1968 and 2009.  That’s the thing about weather: it does not work in a straight line but rather is chaotic which is why predictions are hard.  Here is the correlation between November and Winter: So there is NOT much signal from cold in November in Atlanta and a cold winter to follow, the signal is weakly positive especially if late November is cold not early November.  Dr. Joe D’Aleo did research on what type ENSO patterns had the most month to month volatility and variability this winter looks to be active and changeable (on the higher end of the range this year but NOT quite the highest): It’s way to early for a specific Thanksgiving forecast obviously, so here are some interesting notes: How November plays out and new data not yet in for October may tip the forecast for winter one way or another. I’ll update it as needed by the start of December at the latest.  MY exclusive 5-Day FORECAST is always right here 24/7/365. Bookmark it.  Download the WSB Radio APP for my forecast and my blog plus traffic and news alerts. For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.

News

  • The remains of six victims of a deadly volcano eruption in New Zealand have been recovered. Sixteen people were killed on White Island when a volcano there unexpectedly erupted Monday, The Associated Press reported. Eight military specialists recovered six of the eight victims believed to be on the island, and the bodies will be taken to Auckland for identification, CNN reported. Due to toxic gases still being released from the volcano, the team had to wear protective suits and breathing gear to be on the island, the AP reported. The search had to end as air supplies ran low, the New York Times reported. An additional recovery mission is planned to find a tour guide and boat captain who had taken tourists to the island. At least one of them is expected to be in the water, but the other person’s location is unknown, the AP reported. Forty-seven tourists, many from a Royal Caribbean cruise, and guides were on the island when the volcano exploded. Many of the people who survived were burned. Fifteen tourists not from Australia are in burn units across the country with 11 listed as very critical. Thirteen Australians who were part of the tour have all returned to their home country, the AP reported. Skin banks are sending tissues to hospitals to help treat the burns, as medical teams from Australia, Britain and the U.S. travel to New Zealand to help treat patients, the AP reported.
  • A Minnesota man was sentenced Wednesday to more than 24 years in prison in the death of his 13-day-old son. Michael Herkal, 33, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, nearly 16 months to the day after Apple Valley police responded to an Aug. 12, 2018, medical call for an infant not breathing, WCCO reported. The child died two days later, after doctors determined he had suffered a skull fracture and bleeding in his brain. Herkal was charged initially with felony assault and malicious punishment of a child, but three additional charges of murder were filed after authorities received the autopsy report, KARE11 reported. According to WCCO, Herkal initially told authorities his toddler pulled the newborn off the couch twice but later claimed the baby slipped from his hands and fell onto a coffee table during a diaper change. During his plea hearing, however, Herkal admitted he also shook the infant violently and slapped him, the TV station reported.
  • Major League Baseball announced substantial changes Thursday to its drug use and testing policy, multiple news outlets reported. In addition to removing marijuana from its “drugs of abuse” category – making it the first major US sports league to do so – the organization announced mandatory testing for the presence of opioids, cocaine, synthetic THC, LSD and fentanyl, ABC News reported. Per the policy revisions, players will still be tested for “natural cannabinoids” such as THC, CBD, and marijuana, but punishment for violations will now be treated similarly to those of the alcohol and violence policies, ABC News reported. 'Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct under the Parties’ Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, which provides mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a Player’s Club or the Commissioner’s Office in response to certain conduct involving Natural Cannabinoids,” the league, in association with its players union, stated. According to NPR, the policy changes will take effect during 2020 spring training.  “The opioid epidemic in our country is an issue of significant concern to Major League Baseball,” MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said in a prepared statement, adding, “It is our hope that this agreement - which is based on principles of prevention, treatment, awareness and education - will help protect the health and safety of our Players.” Read more here and here.
  • Seeking emergency mental health assistance could soon be as simple as dialing 988, federal regulators announced Thursday. The Federal Communications Commission formally began the process Thursday to designate 988 as a nationwide suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. “The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis,” Dwight Holton, CEO of suicide prevention nonprofit Lines for Life, told USA Today. “No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.' According to The Wall Street Journal, the new hotline is intended to simplify access to services available currently by dialing 1-800-273-TALK, the existing National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Once operational, dialing 988 would connect callers to the existing hotline and then route them to nearby crisis centers equipped to provide assistance. “We believe this historical and critical effort will turn the tide on reducing suicides and promote mental wellness in the United States,” said a statement from Kimberly Williams, chief executive of Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit that administers the lifeline, The Journal reported. Read more here and here.
  • An emergency landing by a single-engine plane snarled traffic Thursday night on Interstate 5 in San Diego, multiple news outlets reported. Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, told KNSD the Cessna 182 made a hard landing on the southbound lanes around 7:15 p.m. Within 30 minutes authorities had re-opened two southbound lanes, KFMB reported. Carlsbad Fire Division Chief Mike Lopez told KNSD a man and a woman were on board traveling from the San Gabriel Airport in Los Angeles to McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad. According to KFMB, no injuries were reported, and the plane did not strike any motorists. “They did a pretty good job landing this thing,” Lopez told KNSD, adding, “The skill of that pilot, he did a stellar job.”
  • A Fort Gibson man recently showed off his blacksmith skills by taking first place in a competition television show. Nic Overton, 23, earned the top spot on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” which is centered around blacksmith work. Along with bragging rights, Overton won a $10,000 prize. Overton told KOKI he’s been fascinated with blacksmithing since he was a child and crafted his first knife out of a railroad spike. He managed to turn his hobby into a career. He owns his own business called Nix Knives.