NewsWatch Dallas
Updated Jun. 5, 2008

Preparing to Walk-On for Fall Football

Maybe you weren't recruited by that big college, or you decided not to sign a Letter of Intent on National Signing Day with a small school. Instead you opted to walk-on to your favorite university football team.

At the University of Texas at Austin, non-scholarship football players also get their names on the backs of their jerseys. The walk-ons also suit up for all home games and travel to bowl games.

Becoming an outstanding player takes great effort and is rewarded for making the team and contributing as a leader on the scout teams. Some outstanding walk-ons are selected for special teams (including the starting punter and kicker). A few become reserve players on the depth chart, get to travel to road games, and play a major role on game day. Just ask these former Texas Longhorns walk-ons playing in the NFL:
* Cullen Loeffler, Deep Snapper, Minnesota
* Ahmard Hall, Fullback, Tennessee
* Richmond McGee, Punter, Philadelphia

Some former walk-ons have gone on to become NFL assistant coaches:
* Kyle Shanahan, Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach, UT wide receiver (2000-2001)
* Richard Hightower, Houston Texans Special Teams Assistant, UT wide receiver/special teams (2000-2002)

Lori Smith, UT director of compliance, told NewsWatch Dallas that all non-scholarship student-athletes must go through a process before being cleared to try out and practice with the Longhorns. "Football holds tryouts in the fall and spring semesters usually the first week of classes. All individuals trying out must have been admitted to UT on their own and be enrolled in a full-time course load at UT. The football office distributes the walk-on tryout information and packets to inquiring student-athletes prior to each semester," stated Ms. Smith.

For information on walk-on tryouts, contact George Wynn at the UT Athletics Department.

May 28, 2008

A NewsWatch Dallas Investigative Report

A recruiter misleads an applicant into thinking that a company has a job opening. The company's human resources representative or hiring manager then tells the candidate that there was no job opening. This is an example of a deceptive employment practice under the Texas Personnel Services Act, according to consumer lawyer Craig Jordan.

Mr. Jordan cited the Texas Occupations Code (Section 2501.101): "An owner, operator, counselor, agent, or employee of a personnel service may not ... refer an applicant to an employer unless the personnel service has a job order for the referral."

"Any kind of misrepresentation of a seller (recruiter) or service (job lead) that is false is a violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act," Mr. Jordan told NewsWatch Dallas.

If the issue pertains to a temporary employment agency placing a job order with the Texas Workforce Commission, it is suggested that the TWC verify the validity that the client company indeed has contracted with the employment agency and has the job opening.

In addition, pay particular attention when giving out your Social Security number on the telephone or Internet to a recruiter, employment agency or consulting firm. An outside recruiter may state that the client company requests the applicant's Social Security number for its database. However, that is not always the case. A Texas Instruments spokeswoman, who is no longer with the company, told NewsWatch Dallas in a 2001 interview that Social Security numbers are not required until the applicant arrives for an interview.

Kim Morgan of T.I.'s media relations department told NewsWatch Dallas today, "We don't require Social Security numbers nor do any of the contractor or hiring agencies that we use."

"Unfortunately, there is no law that prohibits a private business from asking for a Social Security number," Craig Jordan said. "Texas requires a business to take safeguards to protect Social Security numbers and other identifying information, but the law is pretty much toothless as only the AG (attorney general) an enforce it."

According to the Texas Business and Commerce Code (Sections 48.001 and 48.102) (Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act), "personal information" includes an individual's Social Security number. "A business shall implement and maintain reasonable procedures, including taking any appropriate corrective action, to protect and safeguard from unlawful use or disclosure any sensitive personal information collected or maintained by the business in the regular course of business."

The bottom line is to be careful in your job search. If that job lead seems too good to be true, it probably is.

May 14, 2008

TWC Says No Recession

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)/Career Journal found that more than 70 percent of human resources departments rely on job fairs for recruiting.

Job fairs can be an excellent source of industry and specific company information. Information on current and future job opportunities is readily available if you can endure the long lines and waiting during bad economic times.

In a Virginia Tech University study, the author states that job fairs are "not for the shy and retiring." "You're not necessarily learning about every opportunity in each organization - you are learning where the major hiring needs are."

The City of Richardson, Expo Experts, Greater Dallas Chamber and Dallas Morning News hosted a job fair on Apr. 30. To those that may argue as to why taxpayer money is used for job fair sites as opposed to the private sector or churches, the site was leased for a fee. Civic Center manager Geoff Wright said that Expo Experts paid $1,500 for the job fair. The fee covers the room expense, dates/times, setup, tables and chairs. About 23 companies participated and included 14 from the Dallas/Fort Worth area and four from Richardson.

Brenda Morton, 45, from The Colony, said "I want to get in front of some employers rather than send resumes." She is an information technology business analyst with 10 years experience. Ms. Morton prefers to get a permanent position that "absolutely has benefits." She said that she has individual health insurance but that it is "very expensive."

Tausha Branch of Lewisville said she talked to human resource representatives but hoped to interview with hiring managers. She is a civil engineering design drafter.

One company recruiter told NewsWatch Dallas that he has actual job openings for mechanical engineers. James Baxley of Air System Components in Richardson stated that he is not shopping the market. He is looking for local candidates and explained that he will "set-up interviews so hiring leaders can interview them (the candidates)."

Expo Experts and the Greater Dallas Chamber did not respond to our request for an interview.

The bottom line, according to Joyce Lain Kennedy in the Dallas Morning News, is "Although job fair and trade show event reps are unlikely to have the authority to make hiring decisions, they are valuable contacts for getting inside a company you may want to join."

The April employment and job growth statistics do not indicate a recession, according to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). Texas has "historically low unemployment rates and the highest job growth numbers in the nation," Ann Hatchitt, TWC Director of Communications, told NewsWatch Dallas. "Job fairs are always a valuable tool regardless of the state of the economy. When jobs are plentiful, employers always are searching for qualified candidates, and when the job market is tighter, job seekers take advantage of any opportunity to learn about available positions," said Ms. Hatchitt.

"Our Texas economy continues to show significant underlying strength with gains of nearly 40,000 jobs during the last three months," said TWC Chairman Tom Pauken. "Unemployment rates remain near record lows, and our annual job growth remains a strong 2.1 percent, well above the U.S. job growth rate of 0.4 percent," Pauken added.

Texas Labor Statistics (March 2008):
Unemployment Rate - 4.2
Unemployed Persons - 488,893
Dallas - 4.6 (27,197), Richardson - 3.7 (2,081)
Source: Texas Labor Market Information TRACER report

There is the issue of being unemployed and without health insurance. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, Texas has the highest rate in the country of unemployed individuals without health insurance, states a focus group report on the TDI web site.

When asked by NewsWatch Dallas if Texas companies that outsource jobs should be required to pay a higher or lower unemployment tax, the TWC's Ms. Hatchitt explained that companies who have a history of laying-off people would raise the employer's rates. She stated that under the federal Trade Adjustment Act, workers laid off because of outsourcing are eligible for additional unemployment insurance.

As of Mar. 31, there were 102,154 job postings on the TWC job seeker's web site, As to why private and temporary employment agencies place jobs with the TWC, and in some cases, that job may not exist, Ms. Hatchitt said that the TWC is not able to monitor the job postings to make sure that they are legitimate. "Nobody should post anything on WorkInTexas that aren't legitimate jobs. We'd appreciate it if they (job applicant) would let us know if the job seeker finds a job on WorkInTexas that has already been filled," said Ms. Hatchitt.

It should be noted that the Democratic members of Congress tried to push for extended unemployment benefits in the tax rebate package. That failed in the final bill that was sent to President George W. Bush for approval.

Updated Mar. 12, 2008


They tout themselves as "Pioneers of No-Cost Health Care." Remote Area Medical (RAM) is a non-profit, volunteer organization that provides free health care to people in remote areas of the United States.

Stan Brock, founder of RAM, told CBS News "60 Minutes" in a Mar. 2 broadcast that he's finding thousands of needy patients right here in the U.S. where 47 million persons have no health insurance. But you will not find Remote Area Medical in Texas.

A Jan. 8 report in the American Medical News (American Medical Association) states, "Texas has the highest percentage of uninsureds in the U.S. at 24%."

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, there were 537,000 unemployed workers in the January civilian labor force estimates. Included in that total are 142,400 persons out of work in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It is not known how many unemployed persons lack proper health insurance.

"We're not allowed and unable to provide remote area medical services in Dallas, Texas or any other part of Texas," Mr. Brock told NewsWatch Dallas.

"There are rules and regulations in most of the U.S. (Texas included) that prevents doctors from crossing state lines without the appropriate license in that state, in other words, Texas," Brock said. "We have been approached several years ago about holding one there (in Dallas), because there is great need there and somebody called us about it. But they weren't able to put together the necessary permission for us to bring in our resources and volunteer the doctors to provide the service."

He stated that it would be possible to use Texas doctors "if you could get them in sufficient numbers." "The problem that we find all over the country is that the local providers are a little bit reluctant to provide this kind of care, in their home town, and so it's essential in most cases to bring them in from somewhere else."

Mr. Brock said he spoke to Dr. Eduardo J. Sanchez, former Texas Commissioner of Health (2001-2006), about this issue because RAM was asked to go to Texas. At that time, Dr. Sanchez was acceptable to Mr. Brock's request; however, at the end of 2006, Dr. Sanchez left the post to take a position with the UT School of Public Health at Houston.

"I was a speaker at a convention of state and Mexican officials regarding border health issues, and my topic was the subject of doctors and other licensed medical workers being able to freely cross state lines to provide free care for the indigent," Brock continued. He added that this type of medical care is not permitted in most of the U.S., except in Tennessee where RAM is allowed to bring in volunteer health professionals from anywhere in the U.S. to provide free health care.

"There is a procedure in Texas for out-of-state doctors to visit Texas for volunteer purposes, but it requires the doctor to jump through several hoops," Mr. Brock said.

Dr. Ross Isaacs, a RAM volunteer, told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley, "It's the working poor, middle of their lives, most with families, most not substance abusers and employed without adequate insurance."

NewsWatch has contacted the Texas Department of Public Health and Texas Workforce Commission on an Open Records Act request on Mar. 4, but has not received any information or comment as of this publication.

Updated Oct. 17, 2008

A NewsWatch Dallas Continuing Investigation:

Timeline of Secretaries, Generals and Advisors in War on Terror

Key Organizations:
This is the mission and purpose of the main Cabinet-level departments, groups formed during the war, military command and forces.

The U.S. Central Command is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. This unified combatant command is responsible for operational control of U.S. military forces in Iraq.

The Central Intelligence Agency's mission is to support the President, the National Security Council, and all officials who make and execute U.S. national security policy by: providing accurate, comprehensive and timely foreign intelligence on national security topics; conducting counterintelligence activities, special activities and other functions related to foreign intelligence and national security, as directed by the president.

The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the nation's security.

Department of State
The mission of the State Department is to create a more secure, democratic and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community.

Iraq Stabilization Group
This group, led by Condoleezza Rice, was formed within the National Security Council in 2004 to aid the White House in coordinating Iraq policy and to reduce the Pentagon's role. Members responsibilities included: counterterrorism - Fran Townsend; economic development - Gary Edson; political transition - Robert Blackwill; public relations - Anna Perez, Jim Wilkinson.

Iraq Study Group
This bipartisan group was formed in 2006 to analyze alternative courses in Iraq regarding redeployment or withdrawal of U.S. forces due to continued problems with insurgency and Iraqi opposition. Members are James Baker and Lee Hamilton (co-chairmen), Lawrence Eagleburger, Vernon Jordan, Edwin Meese, Sandra Day O'Connor, Leon Panetta, William J. Perry, Charles S. Robb and Alan Simpson.

Iraq Survey Group
Formed in 2003, this group was responsible for the hunt for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was comprised of 1,400 weapons inspectors, led by Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton.

Joint Chiefs of Staff
The highest ranking officers in each branch of the military to which the unified combatant commands report.

Joint Staff
The Joint Staff assists the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with strategic direction of the combatant forces, operation under unified command, and integration into an efficient team of armed forces.

The Multi-National Force-Iraq, also known as the Coalition, are the nations whose governments have military personnel in Iraq, although 90 percent of the force is American troops.

The Multi-National Corps-Iraq is the tactical unit of MNF-I responsible for command and control of operations throughout Iraq. Iraq is divided into six major areas of responsibility maintained by forces from 26 countries. MNC-I is headquartered by the U.S. Army V Corps deployed to Camp Victory, Baghdad.

Organizational History:
What follows is a chronological list of changes in government with key personnel and tenure. It was necessary to include persons prior to the start of the Iraq War for context and perspective.

Executive Branch:
President - George W. Bush (2001-2008)
Chief of Staff - Andrew Card (2001-2006), Josh Bolten (2006-)

National Security Council (NSC):
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (National Security Advisor) - Condoleezza Rice (2001-2004), Stephen Hadley (2005-)
Senior Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control - Frank Miller (2003-2005)

Director of National Intelligence (DNI):
John Negroponte (2005-2006)
Adm. Mike McConnell (2007)

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director:
George Tenet (1997-2004)
Porter Goss (2005-2006)
Gen. Michael Hayden (2006-)

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (White House Homeland Security Advisor):
Fran Townsend (2004-2007)

Deputy Chief of Mission - U.S. Coordinator in Iraq:
David Satterfield (2005-)

Department of State:
Secretary of State - Gen. Colin Powell (2001-2004), Condoleezza Rice (2005-)
Deputy Secretary of State - Richard Armitage (2001-2005), Robert Zoellick (2005-2006), John Negroponte (2007-)
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs - Karen Hughes (2005-2007), James Glassman (2008-)
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security - Robert Joseph (2005-)
Under Secretary for Political Affairs - R. Nicholas Burns (2005-2008),
William Burns (2008-)
Counselor to Secretary of State - Philip Zelikow (Exec. Dir., 9/11 Commission) (2005-2006), Eliot Cohen (2007-)
Consultant to Secretary of State (Senior Advisors) - Stephen Herbits (2001-2004), James Jeffrey (2006-)
Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization - John Herbst (2006-)
Reconstruction Coordinator in Iraq - Robin Raphel (2003-2005), Joseph Saloom (2006-2007), Timothy Carney (2007-)

Department of Defense:
Secretary of Defense - Donald Rumsfeld (2001-2006), Robert Gates (2007)
Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense - Pete Geren (2005), Robert Rangel (2006-)
Deputy Secretary of Defense - Paul Wolfowitz (2001-2006), Gordon England (2006-)
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs - Lawrence Di Rita (2001-)
Under Secretary for Policy - Doug Feith (2001-2005), Eric Edelman (2006-)
Under Secretary for Intelligence - Stephen Cambone (2003-2006), Robert Andrews (2007-)

The Military:
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff - Gen. Henry "Hugh" Shelton (1997-2001), Gen. Richard Myers (2001-2005), Gen. Peter Pace (2005-2007), Adm. Mike Mullen (2007-)
Vice Chairman JCS - Gen. Peter Pace (2001-2005), Adm. Edmund Giambastiani (2005-2007), Gen. James Cartwright (2008-)
Director, Joint Staff - Gen. George Casey (2003), Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp (2005-)
Army Chief of Staff - Gen. Peter Schoomaker (2003-2007), Gen. George Casey (2007-)
Army Vice Chief of Staff - Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli (2008-)
Chief of Naval Operations - Adm. Vernon Clark (2000-2005), Adm. Mike Mullen (2006-2007)
Air Force Chief of Staff - Gen. John Jumper (2001-2005), Gen. Michael Moseley (2005-2008)
Marine Corps Commandant - Gen. James Jones (1999-2002), Gen. Michael Hagee (2003-)
Central Command - Gen. Tommy Franks (2000-2003), Gen. John Abizaid (2003-2006), Adm. William Fallon (2007-2008), Gen. David Petraeus (2008-)
NATO Supreme Allied Commander - Gen. Wesley Clark (1997-2000), Gen. Joseph Ralston (2000-2003), Gen. James L. Jones (2003-2006), Gen. John Craddock (2007-)

Pre-sovereignty in Iraq:
Director, Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance - Lt. Gen. Jay Garner (2003)
Coalition Provisional Authority - L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer (2004)

Army intelligence officer in Iraq - Maj. Gen. James "Spider" Marks (Ret.) (2002-2004)

Multi-National Force-Iraq (coalition forces):
Commanding General - Gen. William Wallace (2002-2003), Lt. Gen. David McKiernan (2002-2003), Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (2003-2004), Gen. George Casey (2004-2006), Lt. Gen. David Petraeus (2007-2008), Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno (2008-)
Spokesman, MNF-I - Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt (2004), Maj. Gen. William Caldwell (2006-2007), Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner (2007-)
Chief, Public Affairs, Communication Div., MNF-I - Rear Adm. Gregory Smith (2007-)

Multi-National Corps-Iraq:
Commanding General - Lt. Gen. John Vines (2005), Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli (2006), Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno (2007-2008), Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin (2008-)
Commander of Marine and Army Forces in Iraq:
Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin (2007-2008), Maj. Gen. John Kelly (2008-)

NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) (Afghanistan):
Operational command for the United Nations Assistance Mission
Commander - Gen. Dan McNeill (2007-2008), Gen. David McKiernan (2008-)
ISAF Regional Commander East - Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser (2008-)

Updated Sep. 10, 2008

Now Featuring Long Range Tools & Hurricane Tracking

Computer models provide a simulation of the atmosphere based on numerical equations of fluid dynamics. Several computer models are used with slightly different parameterization and each one can have different forecasts, according to the National Weather Service.

Weather models are complex computer programs that run on supercomputers and that provide forecasts based on temperature, pressure, wind and precipitation on a regional or global level. Models also use relative humidity and lifted index, which is a measure of thunderstorm potential based primarily on low-level moisture availability.

Dynamics is how meteorologists physically and mathematically represent processes in the atmosphere. The meteorologist analyzes the computer data from various model guidance and uses trends from fronts, high and low pressure centers, clouds and precipitation to prog (forecast) what will happen in your area. The meteorologist determines which model simulation is correctly forecasting the weather and base the forecast on that particular solution.

Typically, the numerical model guidance includes presentations of surface analysis, precipitation and millibar levels (200 to 850 mb or about 5,000 to 39,000 ft) for height, temperature, wind and vorticity. Ensemble models use a collection of two or more forecasts for the same time. These forecasts either use different initial conditions or are based on different forecasting procedures.

Atmospheric motions occur across a wide range of scales - planetary, synoptic, meso and micro. The smaller scale motions not captured by the surface or upper air observing networks are important to the larger scale, so they are parameterized.

Many of these weather models are run daily at the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) to produce the forecasts issued by the National Weather Service and tropical cyclone tracking by the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Models should not be used without first consulting observed data and applying knowledge of atmospheric processes to determine a forecast. According to a recent survey by NewsWatch Dallas, meteorologists will not rely on one model alone; rather, a combination or consensus will be used depending on expected weather and season.

This list includes forecast time increments and how often the models are updated:
* AVN (Aviation Model) - 120 hr.
* DGEX (Downscaled GFS with Eta Extension).
* Eta - 6 hr., updated daily, 60-hr. computer model.
* ECMWF (European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting) - 3-6 day, updated daily.
* GEM (Canadian Global Environmental Multiscale).
* GFDL (Geophysical Fluid Dynamics) - Dynamical model used by NWS/NHC and run every 6 hr. out to 126 hr.
* GFS (Global Forecast System) - 6 hr., updated twice daily; dynamical model used by NHC to produce track and outer wind structure forecasts (run four times per day).
* HWRF (Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting) - Dynamical model used by NHC.
* LGEM (Logistic Growth Equation Model Summary) - Statistical-dynamical model used by NHC.
* MM5 (Penn State University/National Center for Atmospheric Research mesoscale model) - 6 hr., updated daily; will become WRF (Weather Research Forecast model).
* MOS (Model Output Statistics).
* MRF (Medium Range Forecast) MEX - 0.5 hr., updated daily, 10-day forecast.
* NAM (North American Mesoscale Model) - 6-hr., updated twice daily.
* NGM (Nested Grid Model) - 6 hr., updated twice daily, 48-hr. forecast; oldest model likely to be discontinued. NGM model has MOS called FWC (Forecasted Weather Conditions) which include temperature forecasts, probability of precipitation (POP), quantitative precipitation forecast (QPF), high and low temperatures, cloud cover, visibility and wind.
* NOGAPS (Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System) - 144-hr. numerical model forecast, ran twice daily; dynamical model used by NHC and run out to 180 hr.
* RUC (Rapid Update Cycle) - 3 hr., updated hourly, 12-hr. forecast.
* UKMET (United Kingdom Meteorological Agency) - 12 hr., twice daily, 72-hr. forecast.

How are the forecast database grids created?

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service office first import digital observations as well as several (raw and bias-adjusted) computer model and sensible weather data into a Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE). Then, using advanced tools and techniques within the GFE, the forecaster interactively manipulates the digital data for each forecast element or grid. Each point on a grid represents a separate place and time in the forecast period. Using the GFE, meteorologists assign a value to every grid point for each different weather element, and for each time in the forecast period.

Special tools are used for long-range forecasts developed by the CPC-NCEP. These tools are used for seasonal, monthly and ENSO events. These forecasts are expressed as a probability anomaly of temperature and precipitation falling into three classes - above normal, near normal or below normal. The period of record is based on 30-year averages during 1971-2000.

* CFS (Climate Forecast System) - an ensemble mean forecast from a fully-coupled ocean-atmosphere dynamic model.
* CCA (Canonical Correlation Analysis) - linearly predicts pattern evolution based on global sea-surface temperatures at the 700 mb height and U.S. surface temperature and precipitation from the past year.
* ENSO Composites - this tool applies historical data from previous El Nino and La Nina events.
* OCN (Optical Climate Normals) - forecasts based on temperature and precipitation observations from the past 10-15 years.
* CAS (Constructed Analog on Soil moisture) - uses data since 1932 to determine forecasts based on soil moisture content.
* SMLR (Screening Multiple Linear Regression) - extracts data to produce seasonal and monthly temperature and precipitation forecasts.

Updated Jan. 7, 2007

Are We Getting Hotter?

In an effort to better understand how global warming might be affecting the North Central Texas region, NewsWatch Dallas surveyed local meteorologists and scientists last November. KXAS-TV Chief Meteorologist David Finfrock shared his thoughts. The answers are raw and unedited.

Q:  The National Resources Defense Council states, "In March 2001, after reneging on a campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, President George W. Bush announced his administration's opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 international accord setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions. In renouncing the protocol, the president and members of his administration have used a number of seriously flawed arguments." As meteorologists and scientists, what is your opinion of the Kyoto Protocol and global warming?
A:  There is no question that the earth is getting warmer. That is just a fact. The only debate is how much of the warming is natural climatic fluctuation and how much is caused by human activities. I think it is most likely that both factors are involved in the current warming trend.  And if the earth is already warming naturally, then we should do everything in our power to prevent the situation from getting even worse.
As for Kyoto, we certainly need to reduce greenhouse gases worldwide. The major fault with Kyoto is that it doesn't call for reductions in developing countries like India and China. All countries on earth need to participate.

Q:  Is former vice president Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" documentary on global warming fact or fiction?
A:  I have not personally seen the documentary. But everything that I have read about it stated that the science is solid.

Q:  Dr. William Gray's (professor emeritus of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University) hurricane forecast for 2006 was off due, in part, to the developing El Nino. Do you think more severe hurricanes will hit the U.S. coast next year?
A:  I don't feel comfortable making weather forecasts 6 to 12 months in advance. And based on Dr. Gray's record, I don't think he should do so either.

Q:  I would like to get your comments on how these consecutive years affected the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, and which periods were more severe than the rest in terms of drought and heat. I keep hearing we're in a decadal cycle that could last 10 years or more; do you concur?
1933-1934 - dust bowl years
1951-1956 - drought and severe heat years
1998-2000 - severe La Nina heat
2005-2006 - drought and 2006 heat
A:  I don't know of any particular name for what we are undergoing. And I don't believe each of the next ten years will be hot and dry. But with global warming a reality, we can certainly expect more frequent hot and dry years in the coming decades.
The 84-day dry period of 2000 was the worst single dry period in our history. But the drought of the 50's was the most protracted. It would have to be considered the worst ever. But the North Texas population is much, much greater now than it was in the 50's, so the demand for water now is much greater. If we don't get some exceptionally heavy rains the rest of this winter and spring, we will really be hurting by summer. The soil moisture is much improved over a few months ago. But several lakes are still more than 15 feet low. We could be in for the worst water restrictions ever this summer.

NewsWatch Dallas contacted Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) for her viewpoint on the global warming issue.

In a letter, here is Sen. Hutchison's response, in her own words:
"As you know, a large amount of scientific data has been compiled relating to global climate change. A preponderance of this data suggests that greenhouse gases have increased in concentration in the Earth's atmosphere causing the Earth to warm. However, scientific data also exists that substantiates the view that the Earth is warming due to normal fluctuating temperature cycles. This information suggests that the current warming period of Earth is neither anomalous nor necessarily influenced by human activity.

"I believe that the potential dangers of global climate change due to human activities merit additional research. I have supported numerous initiatives to reduce fossil fuel use through market- and incentive-based approaches. For example, I voted in favor of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which the president signed into law on Aug. 8, 2005. This legislation provides tax incentives to encourage the design and improvement of energy-efficient homes and vehicles. Tax incentives are also included to promote alternative energy use including solar, wind, ethanol and bio-mass. In July 2006, Texas became the nation's leading producer of wind energy, illustrating our state's commitment to alternative energy production.

"I believe future federal action relating to global climate change should utilize the most up-to-date and reliable scientific data as well as a careful consideration of the economic and social costs involved. We must act in a responsible way to clean our air and address the issue of global climate change while maintaining a level playing field for commerce. We should not, however, adopt international treaties that place American businesses at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace, while ignoring the proliferation of pollutants by developing countries. Please be assured that should relevant legislation come before the full Senate, I will consider it closely."

Jan. 18, 2006


It is not known if Alaska Augustine Volcano could alter the polar jet and upper air patterns similarly to how past volcanic activity affected North Texas weather.

In 1980, Washington Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption may have caused Dallas/Fort Worth's hottest summer on record.

Mexico's El Chichon eruption in 1982 added radioactive isotopes found in rain, according to the Department of Energy - Energy Citations Database. This may have been noticed as far northeast as Arkansas and could have contributed to 1982 being DFW's 22nd wettest year on record during an El Nino event. There is some speculation as to if El Chichon caused a DFW record 295 consecutive hours below freezing in December, 1983.

In 1991, Phillipines Mount Pinatubo could have given DFW its wettest year in history with 53.54 inches in an El Nino event.
News/Sports Reporter & Weather Tracker
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Name: Paul Ruekberg