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Friday Afternoon Time Kill: An Interactive Tornado Map

St. Delkus says we may be in for a tornado today. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise. April is Dallas’ peak month for tornadoes, according to this new interactive weather map created by U.S. Tornadoes that tracks the high-point of the tornado season across every county in the United States. Dallas County averages 22 tornadoes in April historically. As you scroll your mouse over the map, you may notice something of a pattern. The data suggests tornado season is migratory:

As we’ve shown in a number of other articles, tornadoes are like snowbirds — they winter in the South. Even there, cool and dry is the name of the game more often than not in the weeks around the new year when tornado tallies reach their minimum. Cold-season tornadoes are generally limited, but larger events happen.

Moving out of winter, we typically see tornadoes move back north and northwest through the Mid-South and Southeast during early spring, then into the Midwest and Plains heading into summer. The main tornado zone ultimately reaches the U.S./Canada border area by July or so, before crashing back southward (with occasional outbursts) during fall.

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The Dallas Zoo’s Harrison Edell Talks Giraffe Birth and Kilts on D Magazine Podcast

We were all a little disappointed that Harrison Edell, the senior director of living collections at the Dallas Zoo, didn’t show up at the Old Monk yesterday with a lemur on his back, or a falcon on his arm, or a tarantula atop his head, or toting some manor of fauna. Instead he was merely a mightily entertaining interview subject on the latest EarBurner podcast.

A couple of corrections/clarifications for this week’s show, which also features impressions of Dallas City Council members Vonciel Hill Jones, Sheffie Kadane, and Tennell Atkins:

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North Texas Drought Persists

Looking at the Texas Water Development Board’s weekly drought map, and noting that only 43 percent of the state is in the midst of a drought today as compared to 58 percent a year ago, it sure is unpleasant to see that dark red lingering over much of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Like we’re the bullseye on a dart board.

Of course, that NASA video that was going around online a couple weeks back says most of North America is likewise pretty well screwed, so we won’t be alone in our misery.

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SMU Earthquake Researchers Find Fault From Irving to West Dallas

This morning seismologists at SMU have released an interim report on their findings from installing 20 portable earthquake monitors around the sites of the Dallas area’s recent slew of tremors, which United States Geological Survey data previously indicated were centered around the former site of Texas Stadium.

But it appears we can’t blame Jerry Jones’ secret underground lair after all. The more precise data collected by the SMU team shows that the quakes have actually been concentrated along a two-mile line that indicates a fault from Irving to West Dallas:

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Yet Another Earthquake in Irving (UPDATE: Actually, Dallas)

The United States Geological Survey reports a magnitude 2.7 earthquake was centered around Irving at 9:36 a.m. this morning.

You know what questions I have about this.

UPDATE: Zoomed in on the epicenter on the USGS map and it’s actually near the intersection of Northwest Highway, Interstate 35E, and Loop 12, which is within Dallas limits. So it would appear we’ve got our fair share of sinners in the big city too.

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99% Invisible on the Scheme to Make Dallas a Seaport

The great podcast 99% Invisible just did an episode about our city’s admittedly harebrained idea to establish Dallas (a city 300 miles from the ocean, 700 miles via the Trinity River) as an important seaport on the Gulf of Mexico. I’d heard much of this before, but I hadn’t realize that our incongruously massive freeway bridges over the river are massive specifically to let ships pass under:

In a series of fits and starts over the next 55 years, the Port of Dallas project kept moving forward. In anticipation of the imminent navigability of the Trinity River, new freeway bridges constructed over the river were built extra tall to allow sea-going vessels clearance underneath. But by the time the money and political clout was ready to finish the project once and for all, Dallas didn’t really need a seaport. The new DFW airport would do just fine.

So the city of Dallas moved their river from the center of town to a walled-off floodplain for a Port of Dallas which never came to pass, and for years the diverted river festered; it became a place to dump sewage, and trash, and even dead bodies. No one went there on purpose.

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MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Program Rips DMN Story on Creationists

One of the great things about working for Genome, a Plano-based national medical science magazine, was getting to know science writers around the country. Because said writers know I live in Dallas, I got several WTF emails after the Dallas Morning News last week published this gee-whiz profile of the Institute for Creation Research, which tries to marry biblical tales with science. (As Dallas Observer writer Amy Silverstein notes, the institute is trying to gild the lily, because the Internet is already full of awesome papers that claim to prove biblical factuals.) The questions these science writers asked can be summarized thusly: Why would a reputable paper suggest that the institute’s members, who are essentially writing King James fan fiction, are in any way practicing science?

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Leading Off (7/14/14)

Clay Jenkins Standing By Obama. Again. The Dallas County Judge has a long history of working with the Obama Administration. In 2007, he donated $1,000 to the then-senator’s presidential campaign. He also contributed pro bono legal work to the campaign, has worked with the administration to keep a mail processing plant in Dallas open, has helped challenge the voter ID law in Texas, and has joined Obama’s push for a “living wage.” Now there’s the plan to house 2,000 migrant children in Dallas, which Jenkins presented a week after meeting with four White House officials during the U.S. Conference of Mayors. However, reports say Jenkins asked the officials what Dallas could do to help with the children detained in South Texas. More than 57,000 have been detained, though most have been transferred out of those facilities, since October. In other news, experts say there’s little risk of a public health problem emerging related to these children.

Chandler Parsons Headed to the Mavericks. The Houston Rockets had until 11 p.m. last night to match the Mavs’ three-year $46 million offer, but no dice. Around 6 p.m., the Rockets said they wouldn’t make the move. Favorite part of this story: Mark Cuban commenting via his Cyber Dust messaging app, which sounds like Snapchat, no? Are the kids still using these things? Anyway. Welcome to Dallas, Parsons!

Police Chief David Brown Pushing for Unions to Desegregate. There are four — Dallas Latino Peace Officers Association, the Dallas Police Association, the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, and the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas — and two of them are fighting over a police training academy and claims that black recruits are failing out at a greater rate than their white counterparts. Brown says the fight has proven to be a distraction and has made him play referee. Only problem is that a) the grievances were statistically true and b) some believe Brown favors the BPA, of which he is a member.

$2.7 Million in “Technology” Purchased, Unnecessary in Fort Worth School District. What does this even mean? Someone purchased “technology,” then ordered up maintenance for said “technology,” now the bill is $2.7 million, only discovered through an audit? Sounds like they were trying to manage payroll and grades and attendance records and vendor payments out of the same system. And that system didn’t work. But then there are double payments and maintenance on services not even being used in the mix? Goodness.

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Leading Off (6/16/14)

Future Dallas: Making Strides, Facing Challenges. If you opened the plastic bag full of ads in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News, you found the special report. If not, it’s here, examining the state of Dallas 10 years after it published its “Tipping Point” report. The results then were that Dallas ranked poorly in crime, education, and economic growth. Ten years later, the DMN reports, we’ve improved in one area–public safety.

Where’s the Perot Museum’s Climate Change Exhibit? Well whoops. The nature and science museum’s VP of programs is saying that a 4-by-2.5-foot panel addressing the subject was lost before the museum opened. Now, more than a year later, they’re ordering a temporary panel be hung in the earth sciences hall while they wait for the permanent piece to arrive. Turns out they didn’t realize the panel was missing until reporters started poking around. Hmm.

Josh Brent Released From Jail. The former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle served time for intoxication manslaughter following the car crash that killed his friend and teammate Jerry Brown. No word on whether he’ll try to be reinstated in the NFL.

Patient Abuse Reported at Parkland. In March, a psychiatric patient spat at nurses and was subsequently restrained and gagged with a toilet paper roll. It took more than three weeks for the hospital to report the incident. One of the nurses involved was also involved in a 2011 incident in which a psychiatric patient was restrained and died.

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Don’t Expect Texas to Actually Do Anything About Earthquakes

There exists in the Texas House of Representatives a Subcommittee on Seismic Activity, which isn’t something you’d think would exist in this state. But it does, and it’s chaired by Denton’s Rep. Myra Crownover. She convened a hearing Monday to discuss the earthquakes that have rattled the southeast corner of Parker County, around Reno and Azle — an area that, until November of last year, had never reported a single felt tremor. It has had dozens now, and the United States Geological Survey suspects it has something to do with disposal wells near the epicenters, where many millions of gallons of waste water from gas wells are pumped nearly two miles beneath the surface, into the Ellenburger Formation. The phenomenon is the subject of a feature story in this month’s issue of D.

It sounds like the height of hubris to claim that humans can cause the earth’s crust to shudder and release unfathomable energies. But we’ve been doing it for decades, here in Texas and elsewhere. The only difference now — the only reason there’s a subcommittee — is that the shaking is happening near a slightly more populous area than in swarms past, and the fears of the people in Parker County can no longer be ignored. Not that the state oil and gas regulator didn’t try at first.

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Brantley Hargrove Lands Book Deal with Simon & Schuster

I want to say something funny here. I want to poke fun at Brantley’s affinity for “cat facts,” or his life in “the bubble,” or his fear of ghosts, or his inexplicable desire to climb–and then jump off of–things he shouldn’t. But no. Today we celebrate.

It’s official: Simon & Schuster will publish D contributor Brantley Hargrove’s forthcoming book about famed storm chaser Tim Samaras and the gigantic tornado–the widest ever recorded–that killed him. The book, tentatively titled The Storm is likely to come out some time in early 2016. It grew out of the reporting Brantley did for this Dallas Observer story last year. I know David Patterson, his agent, is very excited. So is Brantley, though he knows he has a formidable task in front of him.

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In Texas, We’re Temperamental & Uninhibited

The conclusions of a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology have been making their way around the World Wide Echo Chamber the last couple days. Researchers surveyed thousands of Americans in each state about their levels of openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness, and lumped regions of the country together into one […]

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