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ASK THE METEOROLOGIST

“What causes the Northern Lights?”

Walker, Mae Richardson Elementary

The sun is the basic cause of the Aurora.  They occur at each of the Earth’s poles, and the one that we are talking about involves the North Pole, called the Aurora Borealis.  The South Pole aurora is known as the Aurora Australis.

The surface of the sun is constantly boiling and changing because it is so hot, so we see things like sunspots and solar flares, which release particles out into space.  The sun also creates what’s called a “solar wind,” which helps transport the particles discharged from the sun.  Because of the magnetic charge of the Earth’s poles, they attract the particles.  As they enter the Earth’s magnetic field, the particles interact with the molecules of oxygen and nitrogen, which then causes the show in the sky.

Whether the particles from solar flares interact with oxygen or nitrogen molecules affect the color of the aurora.  Collisions with oxygen molecules create green and yellow lights across the sky, while nitrogen creates red or violet.  The altitude can also determine what color the aurora glows, that is, whether it’s more red or green.

  The best time to see the Aurora Borealis is during the winter months when there are cold, clear nights and low pollution.  The best place? Alaska or northern Canada, but sometimes enhanced solar activity allows the lights to be visible from lower latitudes.  Also, in the southern hemisphere, the Aurora Australis is best visible in Antarctica.

Chief Meteorologist Kate McKenna

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WEATHER DISCUSSION

One more morning of cold temperatures awaits, then highs will be climbing as we head into the weekend.  Wednesday morning, we saw lows as cold as the middle to upper 20′s east of the Cascades, and while it won’t be that cold Thursday morning, temperatures will be low enough for another frost or freeze.

Another frost advisory and freeze warning goes into effect Thursday morning for the same locations that saw them Wednesday morning – the Klamath Basin and parts of northern California.  The time period is also the same: 1 AM until 8 AM Thursday.  Fortunately, by the afternoon hours, the morning’s chilly temperatures will seem like a distant memory.  Highs will not only be warmer than Wednesday, but about five degrees above average.

We’ve been talking about the high pressure ridge building in behind the cold front earlier this week, which is now starting to take place.  The ridge builds and holds strong through the weekend, leaving skies clear and temperatures warm.  For the immediate future, as in the next seven days, skies will be sunny and temperatures will stay above average.

For more information, or to send me your weather pictures, head over to Facebook or Twitter.

Chief Meteorologist Kate McKenna

8-20-uo-sign-250x250EUGENE, Ore. — After more than two years of planning the flags of all nine of Oregon’s tribal nations will fly above the Erb Memorial Union.

The University of Oregon will hold an installation ceremony at 10 a.m. on Thursday to dedicate the new flag poles.

“We are extremely grateful to the nine tribes who helped us accomplish this amazing feat,” said Interim President Scott Coltrane. “These flags will fly proudly at the center of our campus and will be a constant reminder of their sacrifices and resiliency.”

The project’s began in 2012 when then business student Orion Falvey went looking for a class project that would enhance campus culture and leave a legacy. After help from classmates he approached Gordon Bettles, the steward of the UO’s Many Nations Longhouse and a member of the Klamath Tribes, who suggested the flag installation.

The installation is the only one of its kind in the Pac 12 to fly all of the sovereign tribes in its state.

Portland Christmas Tree Bomb PlotPORTLAND, Ore.– The young man convicted of plotting to bomb a Portland Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, will spend 30 years in prison.

Twenty-Three year old Mohamed Mohamud was arrested in 2010 after he attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van that was parked near the tree lighting ceremony in Portland.

The arrest was the culmination of a long-term undercover operation, during which Mohamud was monitored closely for months as his bomb plot developed. The device was in fact inert, and the public was never in danger from the device.

Mohamud will have a lifetime term of supervised release after his 30 year sentence.

 

Nova-LealKLAMATH FALLS, Ore.– A man was sentenced for his involvement in one of the largest drug busts during a traffic stop in Southern Oregon. Klamath District Attorney, Rob Patridge said Jeronimo Novoa-Leal will spend five years in prison and likely be deported back to Mexico afterward.

Oregon State Police said he was a passenger in a car traveling down Highway 97 nearly a year ago. They said they pulled the car over and found 22 pounds of methamphetamine, $5,000 in cash, and a fake social security card. The street value of the drugs is estimated to be around 1.1 million dollars.

Rob Patridge said, “The Oregon State Police are an integral part of the thin blue that help keep our communities safe. As funding has become tight and the number of troopers throughout the state have fallen by almost half we are lucky we still have troopers like those involved in this case out on our roads. Their diligent and insightful work helped keep these drugs off the streets which prevents the spawning of more theft and violent crime. As budgets have become even tighter we are lucky to have the dedicated professionals at the Oregon State Police to protect rural Oregon. The Oregon State Police have clearly sent the message that Oregon is not open to drug traffickers. “

The driver of the vehicle stopped is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.

 

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MEDFORD, Ore. — The the man diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States is recovering in a Dallas, Texas area hospital.
Officials said he contracted the virus during a trip to Africa last month.

The Oregon Health Authority said it is aware the threat is now closer to home, but not close enough for Oregonians to worry just yet.

Health officials say it is not easy to catch, and can only be spread through bodily fluids and blood. The person must also be symptomatic. Some of those symptoms can be high fever, sore muscles, weakness, and stomach pain. Also, Ebola is not airborne, so coughing and sneezing do not spread the virus.

At this point federal, state, and county health officials have plans in place if the virus does spread.

“The CDC has guidelines and we look at those guidelines. the state is developing guidelines and we’re working with them and we’re going to have tabletop exercises locally where people reach out to our healthcare partners and sort of practice what would happen if we got a bola how would we handle isolation and quarantine,” said Jim Shames, Jackson County Medical Director.

The Oregon Health Authority also encourages people to be aware. First, self identify. If you are traveling to or from West Africa, be aware of the threat. Also, if you have symptoms of any sickness, do not get on a plane.

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MT. ASHLAND, Ore. — The Mount Ashland parking lot expansion is finally happening. On Wednesday, paving crews were up bright and early starting the process. They were there for a total of ten hours, but at the end of the day, the parking lot expansion was done.

It cost $400,000, and will add almost 100 parking spots.  The expansion has been in the works for a year and a half, but following the expansion announcement, environmentalists tried fighting it.  They said the asphalt runoff could contaminate the nearby watershed.  The case eventually made its way to the State of Oregon Court of Appeals, where Mt. Ashland won.

“It delayed the project, and raised the cost of the project,” said Alan DeBoer, a Mt. Ashland board member.

The expansion also ran into obstacles when it came to recent weather events.

“We were worried about whether it was supposed to be done last Monday, and then the rain hit, and then it was supposed to be done yesterday, and it rained,” said DeBoer.

Mt. Ashland management is urging visitors to steer clear of the newly paved expansion for the next few days while it sets up.

10-1 JOCO MJGRANTS PASS, Ore. — It’s a complex process with many hypothetical questions and moving parts, but Josephine county leaders said they are taking the needed steps to make sure they have all options open when it comes to recreational marijuana.

Should it pass, Measure 91 would not allow counties to put a tax or fee in place on marijuana. Because of this, Josephine County commissioners had a first reading of an ordinance they plan on putting in place before Election Day. The ordinance would set grounds for a fee or tax on marijuana. Commissioners said this is “uncharted territory” and would likely have their ordinance grandfathered in, should Measure 91 pass.

Commissioners said the ordinance isn’t perfect and can be revised down the line.

“There’s a lot of things that would need to be refined in this but it’s very important that we get in prior to November’s election as far as adopting this ordinance which is what we plan to do,” said Josephine County Commissioner Simon Hare.

All of this could be for not if either Measure 91 fails, or the advisory question about this very circumstance is defeated. Even then, the possibility of a tax on marijuana would have to be approved by Josephine County voters at a later election.

Josephine County commissioners made it clear drafting this ordinance doesn’t mean they condone or support Measure 91 in any way. They just want all options open should it pass. The ordinance is expected to be adopted at its second reading later this month.

10-1 FAKE EVENT WEBCENTRAL POINT, Ore. — The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is alerting residents of an unauthorized event. They say a man is approaching local businesses and telling them about a fundraiser at the Jackson County Expo’s ponds where people can pan for gold.

Sheriff’s officials said the man claims 10% of the profits from the gold will go to the sheriff’s office, another 10% to the Expo and the rest to the homeless. Sheriff’s officials said neither they, nor the Expo are involved and are telling people not to go. They said there are legitimate, events going on at the Expo this weekend, and those will go on as scheduled.

“Stay away from that area, if possible and there’s some other events going on. There’s the bridal show and some other things going on at the fairgrounds this weekend. Now those are authorized events. Those are being put on with the knowledge of different agencies,” said Jackson County Public Information Officer Andrea Carlson.

The sheriff’s office will have a presence at the time of the event letting people know the situation. They said they don’t believe there to be any gold in the pond.

leaves changing colorsASHLAND, Ore. — Lithia Park is being named one of the most affordable autumn escapes by Trip Advisor. In the coming weeks 31 percent, of people traveling will be traveling to view the fall foliage.

Although most of the leaves haven’t changed over yet, there are some starting to show their fall colors. The leaves this year are changing right on schedule, and what makes Lithia Park so beautiful is its variety of trees.

“There are a lot of maples, and maples are one of the most beautiful trees for fall colors, they go from yellow to all shades of orange and red,” said Marsha Waite, one of the Jackson County Master Gardeners.

The fall colors typically peaks the third week of October and lasts through the beginning of November. Leaves in Ashland will change sooner than in Medford because of the higher altitude. The key to colorful leaves is sunlight.

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