Dateline recently re-aired an episode called “Murder By the Sea.” I just got around to watching it on my DVR, and I can honestly say I have never seen a story about wrongful imprisonment where I was more convinced the inmate was innocent.
The gist of the story is that an American citizen, Eric Volz, was living in Nicaragua when his ex-girlfriend was brutally murdered. Eric claims (and has ten witnesses to support this) that he was two hours away when the murder took place. Although there is no physical evidence to tie him to the murder, and the prosecution’s only evidence is the testimony of an alcholic (who was granted immunity regarding the case in exchange for his testimony), Eric was found guilty. The Nicaraguan judge threw out the cell-phone records indicating he was in another town, threw out the testimony of his colleagues, and other evidence. Eric has two appeals pending. You can view the Dateline story here.
For more information, or to send Eric a message, go here.
In case anyone hasn’t heard, there is now Fantasy Congress in addition to Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Football, and Fantasy every-other-sports. You select real members of Congress for your team, and the object is to select congresspeople who will get the most bills into law. I wonder if enough people bug Brendan about it, would he start a league…?
Well, today I voted at my new polling place. It was my old elementary school, so that brought back lots of memories. Got there around 7, waited in line for about 30 minutes. Apparently our precinct had over 50% turnout (a fact all the election officials seemed especially proud of, as if they had caused this). Hubby and I had no problems voting, but our roommate did.
Our roommate never changed his address, so he was still supposed to go to his old polling place. He did, but no one was there, and the polls hadn’t yet closed. So he saw another polling place nearby (firehouse), and inquired as to what was going on. The firehouse confirmed he was supposed to be at his original attempted polling place, and our roommate explained that without the ability to travel through locked doors, he couldn’t get there. So they allowed him to cast a provisional ballot at the firehouse. Apparently provisional ballot voters get escorted to the front of the line, which prompted excessive grumbling from weary voters.
I am also marveling at the fact that even during a close election day, Britney Spears’ divorce merits a breaking news ticker. To stay tuned on the Maryland elections, check here.
Typhoon Xangsane is currently pounding the Phillipines with Category 4 winds today. It was a tropical storm just 24 hours ago, and has intensified to a Category 4 typhoon. This was definitely not expected since the the typhoon was hugging the coast overnight. It had previously been anticipated to make landfall as a Category one at best! Worse yet, it is anticipated to hit Manila, the most populated area. It is forecast to weaken before that, however.
Jeff Masters has more.
There also is a new wave about 500 miles to the east of the northern Lesser Antilles islands, and 96L has strengthened and it is close to tropical depression status. Both disturbances are expected to turn out to sea. Again, Jeff Masters has more on this as well.
This is becoming quite amusing and is almost as up and down as gas prices. I was in the middle of posting about the 11 PM advisory which stated TD#6 was again close to becoming a tropical storm, when the 5 AM advisory came out, which states “Tropical Depression remains large but unorganized”. It still has maximum winds of 35MPH and is moving WNW at 13MPH. According to the discussion, convection has increased but the overall organization of the system is still quite poor. If the wind shear that the depression is experiencing dies down over the next two days, as currently forecast, the depression should strengthen. However, the two big questions are 1-will this wind shear actually die down?, and 2- will the depression hang in there long enough to enjoy the lowered wind shear?
Tropical Depression #6 has formed, and is currently about 1500 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands. Its maximum winds are near 35 MPH, and it is moving near the northwest at 14 MPH. It currently has a minimum pressure of 1005 MB. You can see the latest advisory here. Also, Jeff Masters wrote a little about it earlier today when it was still just “Invest 90L”. He also mentions some other possible areas of development in the Atlantic.
UPDATE BY BRENDAN: Dr. Masters says: “The GFS predicts the storm will become a powerful hurricane that will recurve a few hundred miles off the U.S. East Coast without hitting land.” Brian Neudorff links to a model map. Hey, wait a minute… this is the same storm I blogged about last Monday, when it was just a twinkle in the computer models’ eyes! (See also here.) The models invented a nonexistent storm out of thin air, and — voila! — here it is! :) But the models’ long-term forecast track for what we can now confidently call “proto-Florence” has become more favorable to the East Coast, with a more safely out-to-sea recurvature expected. It’s way, way, way too early to be confident of ANY forecast track, of course, let alone a 10-day computer-model prediction. But I just think it’s cool — cool enough to break moratorium :) — that the purely hypothetical storm which the computer models predicted last week has now actually popped into existence.
As of the 11am advisory, Ernesto has sustained winds of up to nearly 50 MPH. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Cayman islands, and Jamaica is under a Tropical Storm warning. It still seems likely that Ernesto could be become a major hurricane once he gets past Jamaica. I’ve also noticed that the center of the 5-Day Cone seems to get closer and closer to New Orleans. Of course, Ernesto could still get killed off by wind shear, and also, it’s a cone, not a line. Just saying that I’m starting to get a bit nervous for the Gulf Coast, and New Orleans especially.
The latest post in Jeff Masters’ Blog indicates that TD 5 will be announced as Ernesto in the NHC’s 11am advisory. The storm is heading west quickly towards Jamaica, and may eventually become a threat to the Gulf Coast. The deciding factor appears to be a large area of wind shear (50 knots or so) near Jamaica that is heading off to the west, but much more slowly than TD 5. If TD 5 catches up with it, it may weaken and die. The wind shear is associated with a upper level trough of low pressure. This through is expected to split on Monday, and then an area of much lower wind shear will form. So the timing of TD 5’s arrival in the Carribean appears to be everything at this time.
Tropical Depression #5 has formed near the Windward Islands. This is that same storm that has been getting more attention lately than Debby.
Read the latest advisory here.
Jeff Masters states that a tropical wave about 700 miles southwest of the Cape Verde islands has some potential for development. Surface winds and convection are both relatively unimpressive right now, but conditions are still favorable for development. There is some dust and dry air to the northwest, but according to Masters, much less than with Chris. Wind shear is relatively low and surface temps are relatively warm.
UPDATE: Dr. Masters just posted for today. He seems less optimistic for development with this system any time soon, and seems more concerned about the dry air to the northwest . Development is still possible later on in the week, however.
As of the 8 pm advisory, Tropical Storm Beryl was located about 160 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras. With sustained winds near 40 MPH, she is heading towards the north, and will eventually move off to the northeast. Current minimum pressure of 1006 MB, next advisory is due in at 11PM EST. A Tropical Storm watch is in effect from north of Cape Lookout to south of Currituck Beach Light.
The Hurricanes and Global Warming report of the day is on MSNBC.COM.
The report states that according to a study released Thursday by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, global warming accounted for about half of the extra heat in the Atlantic last year, which in turn caused last year’s record-breaking hurricane season.
The study found that sea-surface temperatures in Atlantic waters were a record 1.7 degrees F above the 1901-1970 average.
The researchers compared the Atlantic data to worldwide data since the early 20th century, and calculated that global warming explained about 0.8 degrees of this rise.
That wave would be the large area of thunderstorms above the Leeward Islands that is approaching Puerto Rico. This cluster of thunderstorms is not expected to develop due to high wind shear in the area, although the Canadian model is showing it making it to at least tropical storm strength and eventually threatening Bermuda. All other models at this time anticipate increasing wind shear, hindering development of this wave.
As of the 11 am EST report , Alberto had winds of 45 MPH, pressure of 1004 MB, and was moving northwest at 9 MPH.