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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Free Beer

My days run together sometimes.

I know I'm not alone in this. For many it's tough to remember exactly what we did on Monday, or perhaps it was Tuesday.

My days are varied in the stories, events and weather I cover, sure... but for the most part it's a lot of the same.

I come in and a tear off in my second office, the white Ford Explorer that has started to smell like my house. 

I see the same things, trees... a bridge... 

miles and miles of interstate.

road signs, lights.



I saw a guy holding a sign that said "Free Beer."

Could this be a trick? Kinda like the email SPAM  I've been getting lately about free trips to Djibouti, perhaps it was a trap.

With total disregard for anything, including my limbs, I hooked a U-turn and pulled into the parking lot where this dude was holding this sign.

"Free beer?" 

"Yep. Inside."

I went inside, it was a hair salon. The Hair Razer salon on San Jose in Mandarin. There was no gimmick, no request for a blood sample and my social security number. 

It was just two nice ladies, a mother-daughter team, who offered me a beer.

I didn't even need to buy a haircut.

"No way, if you come in we figure you could use a beer," said Kathy Belson, the mother and owner of the salon.

I didn't drink the Bud Light. I was on the clock.

But it was about the principal... I COULD have. 

Then I asked them why. Why would you do this? No one just hands out a beer and expects nothing in return.

Turns out they had been through some rough times about 7 years ago, times that could have called for a beer.

Kathy and her daughter Lacinda have been cutting hair together for more than 13 years. Seven and Hair Razers, the rest of the time at a salon owned by someone else right around the corner.

"We got a call the day after Thanksgiving from a customer asking us what happened," Lacinda told me. She said they ran into work, they were supposed to be off that day, and found the place boarded up. Lights out. 

They had nothing. Not even a cool one. 

"So we didn't panic," Lacinda said. "We found this place and a week later we opened up without even a dollar to our names."

But they didn't do it alone. Their loyal customers, who had been visiting them for years, showed up to help.

"We didn't have hot water, so we had a customer who fixed that."

"There was carpet in here, so another customer came in and put in flooring for us."

"A customer even helped us put up the sign."

So, simply saying thank you didn't seem like enough to them.

"How 'bout a beer?" Kathy thought.

The beer is a way for her to say thanks. And she's been doing it for seven years. 

"I treat this place like it's my home, and if someone walked into my house, the first thing I'm going to do is ask if they want a drink."

And even though a few weeks from now I may not remember that it was a Thursday that I did this story, when ever I drive that stretch of road from now on i'll certainly remember being thirsty. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Forget the Radio... Dial-A-Carol

Today's story started on a dare.

My wife has a tendency to challenge me to things from time to time, so after seeing a random phone number on a Facebook status she threw down the gauntlet.

"You have to call them," she said.

The number: (217)332-1882

The Facebook status said to call the number and request the person who answers it to sing any Christmas song you can think of.

So we did it and video taped it on my cell phone.

That's legit... wife's even holding the phone.

But it's not like I was prank calling someone in the middle of the night demanding the Grinch song. They were totally expecting it.

There are a group of students at the University of Illinois who spend the week of finals locked in a dorm room. But they aren't studying, they're singing Christmas songs called in and requested by people from all over the world. Including me.

"I was bored during finals week and I started singing," said senior Curtis Peterson.

He's one of the couple dozen students who volunteer in shifts to sing. They're answering calls 24/7, not for any other cause but holiday happiness.

"It's spreading Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear," Peterson said.

It's a tradition at school that's in its 51st year. Peterson says they'll get thousands of calls.

"We've been called from England, India, Jordan, Japan," he said it's domestic too. "We've gotten calls from all 50 states."

So what the heck does this have to do with Jacksonville? Well nothing really... it's just an awesome way for anyone to get a quick laugh, it's free (save for long distance charges) and they're happy to chit-chat with you about the experience. And unless the phones start ringing like crazy, they stop singing tonight (Wednesday) at midnight.

One more time: (217)332-1882


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's All About The Kids!

It's very rare that I get serious here on the blog, so I'll do my best here. 

Some of my best memories, and I know I'm not alone here, are of waking up on Christmas morning. I remember not being able to sleep the night before, I remember running and waking my parents up way too early in the morning.

I remember opening presents, specifically I remember getting my first guitar (I can't play it, but I still love that giant dust collector in my guest room). That was an awesome Christmas.

I know I'm not alone here. This is something that most of us share, a joy that most of us get each year.

Key word: Most.

There are so many families that aren't going to be able to pull Christmas gifts off this year. More now than ever, there are families that must choose heating their home, or getting the bare essentials instead of things for the tree.

Of course, having a roof over our heads, a warm home and food on the table is more than enough to be thankful for right now. 

However, it's so nice, especially for the kids, to have just a little bit extra on Christmas morning.

I bring this all up because there's a local music engineer and recording studio owner who is doing his best, and using his talents to give as much as possible back to families who could use just a little help to make their children's Christmas a bit brighter.

"The idea was born out of the understanding that the Christmas time, the holiday time can be either the happiest or the saddest time of year."

That's a quote Jim Stafford gave me during our interview for this story. He owns Eclipse Recording Studio in St. Augustine. He just finished his album "Happy Holidays From The Heart." It's a collection of original and traditional Christmas and Hannukah songs written and performed by local musicians as well as a couple national acts.

He does all this for free. Any money that comes in for the CDs, all of it, goes to the Empty Stocking Fund.

As a musician myself (I play drums, like I said the guitar thing didn't work out), I can appreciate how much of a gift he is giving. I was in a band throughout high school and a little bit of college... and I remember researching costs to make a demo CD for our group.

A lot of places prices were in the $300-$400 and hour range. 

Well, I'm not sure what Stafford's rates are... but he spends 16-18 hours a day working on this album each year, and it's a project he works on year 'round.

Stafford is driven. He's seen friends struggle this time of year, when, as he says, "All emotions are amplified."

And there's no point to even ask about the money he's giving up in order to make these albums.

"The reward is very simple. When you wake up on Christmas morning knowing someone has a smile on their face who probably wouldn't have, that's tremendous."

"You got St. Nick and then you've got St. Jim."

That's from singer/song writer David "Eli" Grimes. He's from right outside of St. Augustine, in fact you can click here for a story I did with him in the past.

Eli is one of the artists who helped out with the CD. He wrote and recorded "A Special Christmas Memory" for the album.

"I just think about who's getting helped out every time I listen to it," Grimes said.

So here's where you can get a copy of the CD, these are all stores in the St. Augustine area:

Music Matters
High Tide Gallery
Simple Gestures
Sea Bridge Landing
The St. Augustine Record (newspaper)

You can also go to the Eclipse Recording Studio or call to buy a copy (904)794-1872.

Finally, I've got a box of about 50 of these on my desk at the First Coast News station in downtown Jacksonville... you can come by and ask for me or email me lewisturner@firstcoastnews.com and I'll be glad to hook you up. They're $15, but remember, every dime is helping out a little kid have a special Christmas memory.

Here's the video story I did with them that aired on Wednesday.

Thanks for anything you can do...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Rant on Making A Billion Dollars...

So if you're a loyal First Coast News viewer, or you visit our website regularly, then you've probably seen Sports Director Dan Hicken's rant about the hard times the Jacksonville Jags are going through.

If you haven't seen that, here's a link: http://fcnews.tv/uxvJAA

Dan says he got the idea for this from another pretty funny video from Youtube. It was made by an angry Cleveland Browns fan, here ya go:

So what does this have to do with the blog title: "My Rant on Making A Billion Dollars..."??

Well, today I was charged with finding a local angle to this new Jags owner's wealth. Turns out, among other things, Shahid Khan made his money by coming up with the one piece, plastic bumper that pretty much everyone with a car on mother earth has.

Easy enough to localize it, considering there have to be at least a million examples of these in the Jacksonville area.

So you bet your sweet sweet bumper I'm getting in on this "walking rant video" action. It's the method I chose to tell my billionaire-buys-ball-club story today.

Because plagiarism imitation is the finest form of flattery.

Talk to you later,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Night At The Museum: Grocery Store Edition

Let me tell ya the best place to be the night before Thanksgiving... the grocery store.
Chad Cushnir and I went to the Winn-Dixie on Beach Boulevard Wednesday night, checking out what people were getting here in the last minute. 

Most people were buying beer.

Seriously. I'm not sure if that was actually for Thanksgiving per se, but that was the most common thing I noticed.

But other than that most folks were getting ready made pies. 

My personal favorite, if you haven't already taken care of the dessert element of your Thanksgivingpalooza, is Edwards Key Lime pie. Holy Moley it's so good.

I'm on my way home to South Carolina for a couple days... Turner is really loose for a while. Everyone have a great Thanksgiving and make sure to pick up an Edwards on the way to the in-laws. They'll freak out.

Talk soon,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I've got a brand new gray hair today...

Oh man... I feel like I really had a chance to knock in a game winning home run today. 

It was the perfect matchup: Me vs. An Awesome Story.

But sometimes in baseball and in writing, your worst enemy is yourself... it turned into a Me vs. Me battle today and the stress/indecision on my part developed yet another gray hair in my lustrous bouffant.

All writing requires good decision making in what to put in a story and what to leave out. This is especially true in broadcast because of the premium of time.

I met this amazing guy with literally 19 layers of cool stories and surprises... focusing that all down to one layer for my news story tonight felt like I was cheating him.

Enough of my confession: I've been awfully honest in the blog recently, I feel very vulnerable.


That is Bill Fadeley. He's an airboat captain here in Jacksonville. He is a beautiful person inside an out (clearly).

Here's a shot of him on First Coast News back in the 80s.

Long story short: He set out to break a world record in airboat travel by leaving Jacksonville and going all the way to New York back in 1986. That's 1100 miles. That has never been done.

However, a couple chipped vertebrae, some terrible whiplash, and a little nerve damage later Guinness told him, "Thanks, but no thanks."

They didn't have a category for such things 25 years ago.

The cool thing is, time heals all and can change heats... so a quarter century after his trip the Guinness people changed their minds and gave him his record. He got the letter in April and was in the October 2012 Guinness Book of World Records (page 121 under the Fantastic Voyages heading).

Here's The Story/Video from today's show


1. This guy also takes his airboat out for every Jags home game in an effort of solidarity. 

2. He imported the first ever African beer (Ngoma) to the United States.

3. His 99-year-old father helped build the first lunar lander module for the space program.

4. He travels to Africa on missionary and service work, and goes on gorilla expeditions.

5. He's pretty cool.

Just a few of the layers to Bill. He took me for a ride in his boat around the St. Johns river downtown Tuesday. I'll share a few of the stills from my video:

The Miss Jacksonville, 16 feet long

Here's the captain cruising under the Main St Bridge

We also did a little bit of minor trespassing today on a private dock. I needed to get some wide shots of our hero from land. 

He took me to some guys yard and dropped me off at a dock.

"It'll be ok," he told me. 

I believed him.

The home owner, who was surprisingly nice considering he could have had me arrested, simply told me to get lost.

I explained I'd need Bill to come and pick me back up, as I wasn't planning on swimming 3 nautical miles to the airboat.

That made for an awkwardly silent 7 minutes while I waited for him to come pick me up.

I still managed a few shots though.

That's him leaving me in the dust at the dock.

That last pic is him racing back to get me. 

Alright, good couple of days. A comic book and airboat hero yesterday and today. 

Would love your stories: send 'em my way... lewisturner@firstcoastnews.com

Talk later,

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm Now A Comic Book Villain

We always pull for the good guys, the superheros.

We want Right to punch Wrong square in the face, and we like it when the super villain is outsmarted by the dashing and handsome hero.

But, come on, the bad guys are cooler. Clearly, local comic book creator Aaron Hazouri understands how cool I am and realizes that I could only be a bad guy.

Check out those muscles, right?
Here's a shot of Aaron at work in his home studio:

We spent an hour or so together after his day shift at an insurance company ended. He put together a couple of drawerings of his comic book series TOASTER GUY!!!!

Here's the story I did with Aaron

Here's a slide show of some of Aaron's characters

The 32-year-old Jax native has had the idea for this comic book since he was 13. And this year he gave out a big ole "What Tha Heck" and put the story in motion.

Anyone here ever "crowdfunded"?? Something that several local businesses and artists have tried on several websites... basically a would-be business owner pitches his idea over a web page and donors give money.

The money is not a loan, doesn't have to be paid back.

This is how Aaron got Toaster Guy's bread buttered. Here's a video he made explaining his project:

Most sites allow the business owner to give a reward of some kind to the donor. Hazouri, for instance, gave each of his donors a copy of the comic book, tshirts, and other art.

Hazouri used a site called Kickstarter, but there are others.

Check out Aaron's work: www.toasterguy.com
And here's the kickstarter url: http://www.kickstarter.com/ 


Now, shifting gears, I've got to give credit where credit is due.

My hero in the reporting world is a guy named Boyd Huppert.

I literally watch every story he does, and of course... he did a story about Kickstarter. I loved how he did it that I thought I should do a story about it right here in Jacksonville. So I visited the site and found Aaron, who was an awesome character for the story... just an all around interesting guy.

Boyd's story was better written, shot and edited than what I put together... click this link for a look, I confess I'm copying at places.

Just for kicks... here's another link to my story with Aaron that aired on First Coast News at 5:30pm. 

Typical super villain, always trying to steal someone's thunder. Sorry Mr. Huppert (Or am I?)

Also, I'm always looking for fun, interesting people to do stories about. Email me lewisturner@firstcoastnews.com with your ideas, I'll be sure to give you credit!

Talk soon,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just checking out some real estate...

I shouldn't let one building speak for an entire neighborhood, so I'll not say where I saw this particular building today.

And I was just about to get out and try to sell them some Christmas wrapping paper.

"Welcome to Hell"???

Friday, September 30, 2011

Odd Policy...

Sometimes I'm not quite sure where my brain gets off track. One minute I'm dead focused on something, doing an interview with a nice guy who owns an insurance company.

The next minute I suddenly find myself in the mustache section of a Beach Blvd costume store.

How did I get from a story about odd insurance policies ((all started with this gem about Holly Madison getting a $1million on her chest)), to full blown in medias res of me in a 1980s mustache?

A screen cap from a portion of my video shoot today

This is a potential problem.

A superior told me I was "toeing the line" today. I agree... my theory is it's always easier to dial it back than to amp it up.

So I need to get my head straight I think, any suggestions would be much appreciated... in the meantime... here's a little something extra from my video shoot today... the point was, well, I guess the point was I was a jerk with a mustache and I fire a guy, he rips off my 'stache and I lose everything b/c of it. Therefore, I realize today that I should have had mustache insurance: for this to make any sense you'll have to click here for the original story.

These are just some raw moments with my co-worker Paul, not really an edited story line... just something to check out if you'd like:

Today was a lot of fun. If my desk isn't cleaned out on Monday, I'll write another blog then.

Talk to you next week,

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Calling In Sick... Red Bull Can Help

I was so depressed this morning.

 It started as a mild case of denial last night and turned into full-fledged, "I'm calling in sick to work", not getting out of bed, shave my head bald sadness this morning.

Then I realized Chipper Jones and Brian McCann don't cry themselves to sleep when I make a bad edit, or forget my subject/verb agreement.

I put down the electric clippers and I stepped away from the toaster.

I did the right thing and went to work today, despite my favorite baseball team, The Atlanta Braves missing out on a post season opportunity.

Let me tell you something, I've never been more happy about a decision in my life. I managed to get the perfect assignment for what was ailing me, and I met the coolest dudes in Jacksonville.

They really cheered me up.

They call themselves "The Pirates of The Care Free Being." A band of five friends (I met three of them today: Tyler, Kayne and Ryan) who's sole purpose in life is to get on a boat and sail away.

They want to sail around the world, and they're starting what could be a monster marketing campaign to do just that: By building a flying device for the Red Bull Flugtag. If you don't know what the Flugtag is... here's some youtube video.

So I watched these guys build their craft. It's going to be a pirate ship with a hang-glider looking contraption on the top, that's at least what I gathered from our conversations.

This is Tyler Watts, the Pilot

Here's a shot of the guys working on the contraption in their Jax Beach front yard. Funny thing is, no one actually looks or pays much attention to what they're doing. As if it's totally normal. 

We drank copious amounts of Red Bull for the story, I'll give more detailed examples.

So while shooting the story, I had the bright idea to slam some Red Bull with these dudes. They had cases of the stuff and I thought it would add a different element to the story. Naturally when you're taping something, you've got to do several "takes" as they say in the moving picture business... that required me to slam one too many BULLS. So now I'll never sleep again.

Here's what I'm talking about... remember the sweet opening credits from last time? They're back!

Also, here's the link to the more "news traditional" story I did on firstcoastnews.com, it includes just a minor snippett of the RedBull chugging that went on today.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Walk Down Memory Lane...

All this talk about how much everyone HATES the new facebook stuff makes me LSHIF**

It's friggin hilarious.

I screencapped some of the facebook statuses that I came across randomly. These aren't necessarily my favorites I've seen, they're just the first I came upon. There are tons of these hilarious pics...

I saw one that was the old Calvin cartoon... but instead of him peeing on a Chevy symbol, or a Jeff Gordon 24, he was peeing on a sign that said "Facebook Changes."


Hahaha... sorry, i can't help but chuckle and then transcribe that chuckle here in the text of this blog.

Let's be honest, facebook has changed some many times since it was "Thefacebook.com"... remember that? It had a "The" in front of it.

And with every change, we all get so mad. And rightfully so... I'm so angry I haven't even really noticed what the changes are. But I'm sure they're oppressive.

So what would happen if we all just boycotted Facebook? What are our alternatives? Myspace? Well, if that's the case that poses a bit of a problem for me and my long term memory, which is the topic of today's Turnerloose VLOG:

A. Good points.
B. How 'bout those sweet opening credits, high quality. I'm putting that on every Turnerloose Video for the rest of time.



**for more on what LSHIF means, follow me on twitter @LewTurner and check my feed (shameless social media plug, baby!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Punctual" Is My Mother's Maiden Name...

So it would make sense that a little of that would rub off on me. You'd think perhaps "Punctual" would therefore be my middle name.


Don't get me wrong... I'm not strolling in a couple hours late to work, dressed down and lazy. However, I'm usually right on time.

And we all know, if you're not five minutes early, your late.

So today, in an effort to change my entire life, I left for work in time to be a full half hour early.

And then this happened... Murphy mailed me a copy of his law with all the important parts highlighted and circled in red pen:

Friday, September 16, 2011

24 Hours Later, I still can't dunk...

...But I feel like a much better human being.

If you haven't heard about the American Lung Association's Fight For Air Climb, that was what I was practicing for during the 42 story stair climb yesterday.

Here's their website for some more info, you can also sign up individually of with a team for the event in February.

(((breaks screech......))

February??? What? Why did I go through that 5 months ahead of time?

Well simple, the answer is that climb takes practice. I came in at 15 minutes, but the winner is going to finish sub 7 minutes. So, practicing is crucial.

And you can go to the Bank of America building downtown Jax every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to run the steps. Have a ball.

So, I promised yesterday that I'd post cell phone video as I made the climb... here ya go... I make a few stops along the way... I edited this all together rather poorly, but gives the general idea.

I'm glad you watched that. Thank you.
If you didn't watch it, that's fine too... you basically just missed me being sweaty and out of breath while I climbed some stairs. I also made the mistake of bad mouthing my boss, but quickly took it back. I was light headed.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

After Today I Better Have A 48 inch Vertical...

...Because I'm being set loose on 44 floors worth of stairs. Part of my assignment today is to cover practice for the Lung Association's big event: The Bank of America Building stair run.

I am in poor physical, cardiovascular condition.

I'm live at 5 and 6 on First Coast News tonight (Thursday). The 5:00 will be pre run... the 6 will be after I made it to the top.

I literally found out about this at 10:00am today. A mere 7 hours to train and condition to get ready for what will surely induce vomiting.

So after my first story shoot today... which we'll talk about later and will also be airing in the 5:30 FCN broadcast... I went to the gas station and bought some Gatoraid products. I wanted to get the G1 G2 and G3... but there was no "3" at the store. So I got two G1s and a G2.

I'm gonna friggin carbo load the heck out of myself. I'll also report back to tell ya if these things made a difference. As long as I live through this, then they worked.

Please wish me and my calves good luck.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You Don't Have To Go Home...

....but you should probably get the heck out of the Bahamas.


120 mph winds, and some folks are deciding to keep the party rockin'! Who am I to judge though, I'd do the same thing.

Heck... I'd ride a wild eyed stallion while wielding a trident right into the heart of this beast.

But I have neither of those things, so I'm in a Daytona Beach McDonalds writing this.

I just left the International Airport over the by the Daytona 500 Speedway. That's where the final flight off of Abaco landed Wednesday.

That's Scott Duchesne, AirGate Aviation Pilot. He made 2 runs to the Bahamas Wednesday getting tourists of the islands.

The last one... can you imagine? You're one of the last 6 passengers off the island before the most furious of nature's creations pressure washes the northern Bahamas.

AirGate Aviation runs shuttles back and forth from the Bahamas out of Daytona and even St. Augustine.

They had the last plane off Abaco... and it was 9 deep. 6 humans and three dogs. I found it amusing how each group had their own dog. PHOTO TIME:

There's a shot of the plane.
Not a bad lifestyle... hopping over to the Bahamas... but there's always the stray hurricane you'll have to deal with too.

I'm not advertising for AirGate, they did not pay me... I promise. If they had I would be writing this from a classier joint.

But, just a vacation travel tip... maybe think about them next time you want to jump to the Bahamas... Daytona and St. Augustine both have their own U.S. Customs departments, so you don't have to go to some huge mega airport. I watched the customs process today, and when you're flying with 5 other people, that whole thing moves really quick.

I'm not sure about prices but click anywhere on this sentence to go to their website, I'm sure they'll fill you in on all that. Even if it's a little more expensive, it might be worth it to avoid the hastle.

Anyway, I'm not sure how I went from meteorologist to reporter to travel agent so fast... but it's time for me to get outta here.

Let's watch this beast take the turn now...

It's like watching a 300,000 ton mega tanker try to change course, you know it can do it... but man does it make you nervous.

Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I've got very expensive sand in my shoes...

Before I venture out of the office tonight on my way home to cook my wife a fine dinner, ((It's taco night at the Turner house)), I want to reflect, take a deep exhale, and pause to look back over the last couple days.

wake up jerk! You gotta make your wife tacos....

Nah, I wasn't really sleeping, it was all an illusion... I'm busy thinking, thinking about cones and stuff. I've gotten to the point where I'd like to punch the cone right in its "uncertainties."

Irene has made a pronounced shift... the track seems to take it through the Outer Banks and then on to New England where this will be a big problem.

But first, this thing is just going to wreck the Bahamas.

I'm not going to post a cone tonight...  though it's easy to find... just click here.

As far as what we're going to get in Jacksonville... winds gusting to 40 or 50 at the beach Friday. 25 foot seas off shore... and 10-15 foot surf. Huge surfing weekend, in fact you can will $1000 if you get a pic of yourself on the largest wave. Salt Life is putting on a big wave contest, click here to learn about that.

Things will rapidly improve and get pretty decent for the weekend.

Speaking of the large waves, that'll mean large erosion as well. Not don't everyone get all excited at once! I know the talk of erosion gets most people so worked up they can't contain their emotions, but hang with me for a second.

So Army Corps of Engineers just finished an $11 million beach renourishment. Pumped a bunch of sand onto 6.7 miles of beach. And now Irene is gonna come and suck some of it up in the backwash of some large waves.

And the Army Corps are cool with it. That's what it's there for... to protect the beach and especially the dunes... that way those aren't washed out to sea.

As for my loafers full of sand... I'll just put that in a bag and see if the ACOE will cut me a check.

Turnerloose on a new hair piece...

I'll need one after the last couple of days... I've just about pulled out every hair in my old one.

Just stressed, sorry about the imagery.

Here's a look at the latest cone... you've probably seen enough cones, huh?

Jacksonville out of the cone... keeps shifting east...
 This is just a quick post with the latest info... no need to get too in detail... Carolinas still need to watch this and be concerned, the First Coast and SE Georgia will just have some good surf and a stiff breeze by the end of the week.

But, look at it this way, now you've got a 'fridge full of milk and bread... time for a pb&j party.

In case you missed it yesterday, here's a look at what some Brunswick shrimpers are doing ahead of this storm.

Major storm, Carolinas... if it hits the U.S. at all (yep, a complete miss is totally possible too).


Morning Discussion... I'm sorry about the math!

So, we've got a Cat 2 hurricane 950 miles from Jacksonville, about to plow through the Bahamas and make some kind of turn in the process.

((sips coffee, looks at NHC forecast, spits coffee onto computer monitor))

That's what made me sppiittt meey coffee everywhere... sorry, my keys are sticking... one sec.

That's better.

So this image is much different than the image 24 hours ago that had Jacksonville in the center of the track... and then 18 hours ago that had Charleston in the center of the track.

And if you remember, my original forecast was for somewhere around Charleston (my exact words were between Savannah and Charleston, Edisto).

So you're probably wondering if I'm going to adjust my forecast.

No, I'm sticking by my original call... however, with history punching me in the gut right now, I must admit that a coastal NC hit looks very likely right now as well. I mean, how many times have we watched these re-curves do this? Example:

Dennis (1999, strange track, but had recurve)
I'm done listing now... point is, it happens.

But think about it like this, the track all depends on computer models! The cone you see up there is derived from a consensus of computer models. I mean, I understand that computer models are great, but are we forgetting what happened a couple weeks ago with Emily? that thing was going to emerge and hit the US too... but it died.

Granted... it was much weaker, had a much different track, and had to deal with Hispanola... yikes. But we've got a lot to consider as this storm makes its way through the Bahamas. I still think both Carolinas and Georgia must be major hurricane ready, as in ready to walk out the door with a bag, dog and guitar.

For us here in Northeast Florida, let's be ready for the potential for some big winds on Friday, perhaps some bridge closures (thanks Mike Prangley) and power outages. But we won't be running for the hills here.

Southeast Georgia: have a shave kit and couple pants and shirts packed just in case this forecast shifts.

We'll talk again later... we need to watch trough moving into eastern US... and subtropical ridge... those will determine forward speed and steering of this thing. And yes, those too can shift... which would change the computer model input...

Algebra time...

2x(3y+z) =
x = 1
y = 1
z = 1

you get 8.

Now let's just change the numbers slightly... each variable equals 2...

Plug in 2... you get 32.... big difference in output, with slight change in input. That's the most basic equation ever with only 3 simple variables.

Imagine working an equation like using something as fluid and wacky as our atmosphere... we're talking thousands of different variables that can change vastly each second...

And the computer models are run every 6 hours....

Does anyone know what happens when you change computer model input?

You get a different output...

Talk soon...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Turnerloose On A Shrimp Boat... And Irene

I grew up on a farm. Well, actually I was born in Savannah and the first couple years of my life were on a "farm" near Darien, Ga.

However, the farm I'm refering to is the marsh and tidal creeks. The crops are endless, and if done right, you can make some money harvesting certain items.

The edge of the world's largest farm... the ocean.

One of the staple crops of the sea farmer is shrimp. And just like the man who picks oranges, grows corn or shells peanuts, the shrimper can't afford to take a day off when there's crop to pick. And now seems to be the time. Instead of a tractor... the shrimper has a diesel trawler:

She thinks my shrimp boat's sexy...

uh, not the same ring to it, but ok...

My travels took me to Brunswick today, to speak with a few shrimp boat captains who are actually packing up their boats, loading down with ice to drag net a few more times before Irene gets too close.

One shrimp boat owner, Diane Adams told me she thinks the shrimping will be best right before and right after the storm passes. It's going to be bumpy as all get out on the ocean, but she says she's going to spend 48 hours shrimping, about 7 miles off shore.

Beautiful evening at the docks Monday, not going to be the case by the end of the week.

I'm trying to think of a scientific explanation behind the legend. I've heard fishermen and shrimpers tell me that it gets good right before storms come by. I mean, this theory made these two guys millionares overnight:

So what could it be? Perhaps a little bit of upwelling cause by the disturbance of the sea surface by the storm. All the nutrient rich, cooler water rushes up from all the turbulance and the shrimp get caught up in the action.

There's also the idea of lower pressure at the surface as well. A hurricane being an intense and deep area of low pressure, might create a more favorable environment (a happy, more comfortable place) for shrimp to rise up and get swallowed up by a net.

Maybe it's just so loud and violent that they just want to come up and see what the heck all the racket is about. Those are my guesses... though I probably wouldn't be brave enough to test the theory. I did see The Perfect Storm, and if George Clooney and Marky Mark can't make it out alive, then what hope do I have?


I'm sticking with my forecast from earlier... especially in the intensity and timing of it all. Perhaps a little north of Edisto for landfall... but definitely Carolinas (I think the Southern variety).

If you missed my earlier thoughts, click here.

As for Jacksonville, the First Coast, and Southeast Georgia... Friday could be very bumpy as the major hurricane makes its way off our shores. We're talking for 50 mph wind gusts at the beach and 25 foot seas. 25 FOOT SEAS... now that's a rough day on the farm.

The First Coast News weather page has the seven day forecast... with a big focus on Friday. 11pm will bring us another batch of data from the National Hurricane Center.

Here's a screen cap of the seven day...

Those numbers under the percentage chance of rain are wind forecasts in MPH... so starting Thursday we could get 30mph gusts, Friday 50... and then things begin to get better from there.

We'll talk later,

Turnerloose on Irene...

So we've got our first hurricane of the season... alrighty then.

My only source of news this morning has been my twitter feed (@LewTurner if you'd like to follow)... I haven't turned on my TV yet, and have been oggling weather maps for hours, so I haven't had a chance to go to the local or network sites yet...

However, it is clear that Hurricane Irene is one of the largest topics of interest this morning, as apparent by it's top status as a trending topic on twitter.

The #Irene hashtag is bombing... much like the surface pressure of Irene overnight... but we'll get into all that in a second.

I mentioned this in one of my tweets earlier in the morning... that it seems like every TV station is tweeting out that Irene will probably hit in there geographic region. Whether it's NC stations, or west coast Florida stations... and depending on the model they'd like to reference, they are absolutely not wrong.

Let me say this first and foremost... in a situation where my forecast contradicts Tim Deegan, I am trumped. He's got the years of experience, he's the chief, he's got the final say... and is most likely right.

However, I am going to get my feet wet a little by giving my first forecast/impression of what Hurricane Irene will do.

I know it's a bit silly to get hyper-specific, but this blog is silly... haven't you been reading it? Come on, I wrote about having a battle with Oprah!

So I'll stick my neck out... I'm going to get very specific here... I'm going to give you intensity forecast and an exact location and general time of Irene landfall (where the eye wall comes ashore), as well as other areas that are going to feel those impacts and what those impacts will be... I'm using several numerical models, trends this season, and real time observations to generate this forecast.

Hint: if you want to skip all the blah, blah technical jargon... just flip straight to the bottom and I'll sum it all up for ya. THANKS!!

Yep, it'll all be in writing... for two reasons...

1. To go on record...
2. To show (if I happen to be wrong), that many times guidance is WAY off when it come to the day 4 and 5 forecast... NHC stats show a 200-250 mile margin of error when it comes to that many days out. So we can all laugh at the silly weatherman later.

In the meantime... here we go:

I think Irene is going to be a major hurricane at landfall... I'm talking a strengthening Cat 3 storm. It's going to miss the mountains of Hispanola and going to be moving through some very warm water. Upper level conditions (according to ONE MODEL) seem very favorable with an upper level anti-cyclone (high pressure) situated over Irene Tuesday and Wednesday as it emerges from all the rocks of the islands and into relatively open water. Here's the latest (as of this writing) GFS for Wednesday afternoon, paying closer attention to the 200mb chart, that's way up there... you can see wind barbs pointing in a clockwise flow above our storm.

That upper level high, over the surface low vents the storm, helping it grow.

So conditions seem right for this one to be strong... winds in the 120 mph range, but, again, getting stronger at landfall.

So where and when...

When is fairly easy, so we'll knock that out now... Saturday morning. Done and done.

No how bout where?

ridge shifts into western atlantic midweek... trough tries to get in here by Thursday... hmmmmm... sorry just thinking aloud here...

I really think, given the trends and how steering currents are looking, that this storm will recurve, so I think south Florida and the west coast should be in the clear, though they are certainly still in the cone. They have every reason to tell me I'm way off base etc...etc.

So, that leaves an area from Jacksonville to Myrtle Beach that I think we should focus on...

Historically, Jacksonville and the rest of the Ga-Fl bight get missed... I'm not going to buck that trend here. I think it recurves and does not make a direct landfall on Jacksonville. I do however think we will get hurricane conditions here... with some very strong winds and rain as Irene skirts our coastline late Friday night into Saturday morning.

This is not going to be a Wilmington, outter banks storm... at least I don't think so.

So that leaves an area between Savannah, Georgia and Myrtle Beach.

Maybe I'm drawing a wrong conclusion here... but this storm reminds me a lot of Hurricane Floyd, although Floyd tracked in September and a couple hundred miles to the north. Floyd stayed north of the Bahamas, made that massive recurve, and then plowed into NC.

Keeping that in mind... since Irene is a little further south now... I think landfall will occur a little further south. How bout we go down the coast a couple hundred miles.

How about Edisto,SC? That's what I'm sticking with for now at least. I'm not going to say Beaufort or Fripp Island, SC that's where I grew up and where my parents work and live (though what's a couple of miles between friends?)... but I really an concerned about a SC landfall this weekend.

So there we go... my official (unofficial) primary Irene forecast... I will probably change this 25 times before tomorrow... but what the heck... this was fun right?


Concise forecast for scrollers:

Irene makes landfall Saturday morning as a strengthening Cat 3 Hurricane (120mph winds) between Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC (I'm picking Edisto, SC as the spot Jim Cantore sets up shop), Jacksonville, the First Coast and SE Georgia will get strong tropical winds (perhaps hurricane strength gusts), some flooding and will deal with beach erosion and very large surf.

There you have it folks... DISCLOSURE: I'm sure this will come back to bite me in my ---, please be gentle and remember my boss and chief meteorologist Tim Deegan is the one with the true final say and real official First Coast News forecast.

Just putting my name in the race.

-My God, what have I done?


Friday, July 8, 2011

Turnerloose At NASA: That Just Happened...

First of all, I say this with all the respect I have in my bones, please no one take the following the wrong way.

I have full faith in highly trained meteorologists... I feel like I do a decent job of forecasting, as well.

However, the guys at NASA are the best in the world. That's not an exaggeration. That's a fact based on the amount of training, screening, and expensive (MEGA expensive and absolutely cutting edge) equipment they have.

For pete's sake, they put the weather satellites in space.

But, how did that 70% chance of storms work out? The running joke I get every single time I meet someone new, or hang out with my Uncle Jerry is: "You weather guys are the only people that can get paid and be wrong half the time."

First of all, that never gets old.

Second, I wonder if they'll get any friendly joking from the launch director, of maybe Charles Bolden will come over with a jab at the next NASA mixer.

I doubt it. I'm pretty sure there is no joking in NASA.

But let me say this, I don't think there is a happier set of meteorologists on the planet than the folks at KSC. They're just fine with the 30% Go forecast. I am too.

And here's the thing. They may not be wrong. Storms could start popping on the Space Coast any minute. Timing was everything.

So... with all that said, what a great launch. What a great experience.

The view from the beach was good. If you have never seen a launch in person, the visuals are friggin amazing... but the vibrations (more than just noise) literally takes your breath away, and you don't really feel it until a couple of minutes later.

Man that's so cool... the next thing is going to have to be even cooler.

Now they're off to load up the ISS with supplies that should last them a year or so up there. Wild.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Turnerloose At NASA: The Moment of Truth...

The astronauts are sleeping. Have been since 8pm.

They're supposed to wake up at 4am to start throwing stuff in a suitcase. I truely hope they were away from facebook or youtube when NASA posted this video to its facebook page around 6pm.

That, my friends, is a lightning bolt hitting a water tower on launch pad 39A... the pad that Atlantis currently sits, waiting to be blasted into low orbit.

According to NASA it pierced the earth some 515 feet away from the shuttle. 

All the genius scientists and engineers inspected the site and said no damage was done to the pad or the shuttle or any of the literally one million moving parts that have to synchronize to send the vehicle screaming out of the atmosphere in a firey rodeo.    

However, is i'm an astronaut and I see that, I'm thinking to myself "That's a little close for comfort..."

HA... nothing like that has ever crossed these minds.

STS135-S-002: STS-135 crew portrait

Good luck Atlantis... let's see a launch!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Turnerloose At NASA... Thoughts on the Weather

This is a picture of the 3 page, small font, front and back weather procedure for a shuttle launch.

I will not go into everything, seeing as how the "Near Freezing Temperatures" section won't apply.

Basically what we need to worry about as we get to launch day will be thunderstorms and rain.

Thunderstorms can't be within ~30 miles of the launch site... they'll scrub right away if storms are popping up around launch time which is around 11:26 a.m. Friday.

They'll also scrub if there is the potential for rain at any of the emergency landing sites, the shuttle can't land in rain (but the NASA weather team doesn't feel like that should be an issue on launch day).

So that leaves us with the big issue: The timing of thunderstorms.

As we all know, the heat of the afternoon is when things get popping here in the southeast, but especially in Florida, where we're dealing with not one, but two seabreeze fronts. And where you get seabreeze collision, you get uplift and you get the big, tall puffy clouds that make rain and a whole lotta electricity. (See also: Florida, Lightning Capital of the Country).

When will the seabreeze develop? Well that depends on how quickly we heat up that day, as well as interaction with an "easterly wave." So while seabreezes may spark a few tstorms around 3:00 or 4:00 on many occasions, that wave may push it a little earlier. Which could mean lightning around launch.

As of this blogging, the NASA weather forecast, which is given by the U.S. Air Force Range Weather Operations Facility just down the road from Kennedy, is calling for a 60% chance of thunderstorms at the time of launch.

That translates into a 60% chance of delay for the final shuttle launch.

The better option would be Saturday morning.

The best option, though, looks to come on Sunday. Drier air will be punching into the Space Coast.

So, if we are a no-go on Friday, it looks like at worst we're talking about a Sunday departure for Atlantis and her crew.

But, come on, it's just a 60% chance, right?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Turnerloose At NASA...

Self portraits are an art that needs to be lost 
I took a very thorough and extensive shower this morning. But before you go hollerin’ “T-M-I, Lewis,” just wait a few sentences.
I was going to NASA, and knew the clearance procedure would be equally thorough/extensive. Surprisingly I was wrong… but we’ll talk about that later.
Today I took my first ever trip into Kennedy Space Center. I drove down I-95 from Jacksonville most of the way. But decided I had seen enough depressing concrete and turned off at Exit 220 – Titusville.

I figured I’d take Highway 1 down to the KSC media gate to get my pass, that way I could see the guts of some of the towns , including Titusville itself, but some of the “Port” towns as well.
You ever drove through a place and feel like you went back in time?
Every time I drive through my beloved Florida Keys (the upper ones especially) I feel like I’m going through towns that the 1990s and 2000s forgot about. I mean that in a good way.
I almost feel like driving the Space Coast on Highway 1, I was traveling through some towns that the 1980s forgot about as well.
Old motel after old motel for the 15 or so miles from Titusville to Cocoa.
One was called the Apollo Inn, and it was most definitely built between 1963-1972 (years of the Apollo space program).

The Apollo Inn as I'm driving down U.S. 1

I mention this mainly because it’s a part of the country that exploded in the early 60s, with the manned space-flight program. People flooded into these towns, paid top dollar to eat fried seafood, buy cheesy t-shirts, and spend the night at what was then top notch lodging.
An old seafood shack was gutted. I saw only one open t-shirt store.
What happened? Did the space program lose its shebang, its tourist-attracting luster?
“Awwww, there will always be another rocket, or shuttle going up,” someone may say.
With the reality that there in fact will not be another shuttle launch, at least not how we know it, a million people are expected to flood into these towns. The Apollo Inn has NO VACANCY this week, as does every hotel/motel/condo from here to Epcot.
One last hurrah guys… then what? Then what’s going to happen to these towns that are already quite sleepy?
I’m not trying to take a political stand on the fiscal sense the shuttle program makes, I’m just going to miss it. And after a trip down U.S. Highway 1 from Titusville to Cocoa Beach, I’d say every town in between will miss it too. I’ll be interested to see if the 2010s take Exit 220, stop by, look around and then hop right back on I-95.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hey, Arlene... Is that you?

It's day 1 of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Slap me five.

And on the first day we've got what looks a lot like a tropical system. A little dip in pressure, some thunderstorms with some minor circulation. Best I can tell, winds are gusting to around 25 to 30 mph according to the closest buoy.

The St. Augustine Buoy is going to give us the best readings until this thing actually moves over land.

Here's screen cap of the National Data Buoy Center info for the St. Augustine Buoy...

That's the rough position of this system... and no, those readings do not look all that impressive.

Right now, the best forecast track for this brings it through St. Johns, Flagler and Volusia County... with the strongest of the system moving in between St. Augustine Beach and Daytona Beach. Worst of it moving over and along I-4.

Winds won't make it to the 38 mph sustained mark to qualify this as a tropical depression before it moves across Florida today. It needs to spin over those warm Gulf Stream waters for a little longer, but it's 20 mph WSW track won't allow that. Right now sustained winds are at 15.5 knots, which is roughly 18 mph. Hmmmm... highly doubtful that this is Arlene. Highly doubtful indeed. Though that 30% circle in the pic at the top of the page is very interesting to see... that's an awfully high percentage from the NHC, at least in my opinion.

Still, this system could spark a few strong thunderstorms and some blinding downpours of rain from St. Augustine over to Putnam and down to Flagler in the First Coast News viewing area.

Meanwhile, the chance of rain for the Jacksonville area holds at around 30% today... mainly because of a line of storms developing off shore moving in.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A quick 2011 Tropical Guide. Plus, who's sitting in the Lyons' Den?

It's hurricane season... well, it will be Wednesday (tomorrow as of this writing). So what better time than to actually write about the weather. I am, after all, a complete weather nerd and, despite some previous posts where I go a little AWOL, I've decided that it's now MY time to throw the name in the Jacksonville Weather Ring. Don't worry, there's plenty of irreverence at the end of this post... just keep on reading, or scroll down if you like. 

I've got my eyes on the tropics... as does every other meteorologist at the station. There is something worth keeping watch of in the Caribbean, off the coast of Honduras and Nicaragua.

Two things in this map worth mentioning... first is the system way down south. It's rather "blobby" and VERY unorganized looking right now, wind shear way  is ripping it apart. However, a couple of computer models show this getting better organized (though moving very very slowly) and becoming the first tropical cyclone of the season. If it holds up it would be called Arlene.

Then there's the cluster of thunderstorms off the coast of the Carolinas that's organized around a rather weak area of low pressure. Here's a larger picture:

I added my childlike red drawings to the map to show basic movement of these t-storms as well as an approaching cold front. For now, it looks like the front will do little to keep the storms away from the region, so as we move into Wednesday afternoon, we could see some showers and storms moving in from the coast.

Going tropical again:

Here's a list of storm names for the 2011 season: I'm going to do my very best to never refer to any of them as a "he/she" or "him/her." That's a bit too personal for monsters that can kill:


PART DEUX... Who's this dude?

Interns have arrived... the annual summer rite of passage for each and every serious journalism student who actually wants a job.

Yep, if you want to work in TV you better get the internship. And you better pray that you don't get the desk next to me, because you will appear in multiple video blog posts and be asked ridiculous questions like, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Ha... I actually asked an intern that today. What do you want to be when you grow up? I felt like a grizzled news vet. I always felt like the "....grow up?" question was strange to ask a college student. Mainly because they are mostly grown up. Also, that question typically gets responses like "fireman" or "spaceman" or "lion keeper."

It just goes on and on.

I chuckle.

Thanks for reading and watching.